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Taking control of heart health: Helping to reduce the burden and improve quality of life

17.5m people die every year from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke. It’s the world’s number one killer and accounts for almost half of all global non-communicable disease deaths.

At Aetna, we provide support to members at-risk of developing CVD to help improve people’s ability to avoid CVD and additional complications. In this short read, we share healthy heart tips and the results of successful programmes that help combat CVD, ahead of World Heart Day on 29th September. Find out more about our commitment to helping keep people healthy.

Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer. The main risk factors of heart disease are an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.

Dr Stella George, Aetna International’s Senior Medical Director, says “Tackling CVD is like peeling back the layers of an onion. Heart attack and stroke are represented by the outermost layer. The layer underneath represents coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and other diseases that lead to those outcomes. Another layer down, lurk the contributing conditions such as obesity, diabetes, clogged arteries and high blood pressure. At the core, it becomes clear that lifestyle choices have the greatest impact on those conditions, even conditions that stem from our DNA make-up.”

Tackling lifestyle and making behavioural changes to prevent and manage CVD requires commitment from:

—   Individuals — to take control of their own health; and

—   Governments, policy makers, health care providers and health benefits partners &mdash to monitor and analyse data and to take both preventative and remedial action.

Both government level and individual action does make a difference as this article on the secrets of Japan’s high life expectancy shows.

What people can do to look after their hearts

Individuals can eat more healthily, be more active, give up smoking, and limit their alcohol intake. These health tips give people small, manageable steps towards better heart health: Alcohol control; Fitness; Healthy eating; and Quit smoking tips. Our health and wellness library is packed with additional helpful and insightful content.

Helping our customers tackle heart health

At Aetna International, we are helping people focus on staying healthy and providing support to those at-risk of developing CVD. We are:

  • Making it easier and more convenient for people to access care. vHealth by Aetna enables people to have a virtual appointment with a doctor via mobile or laptop.
  • Seeing positive results through our In-Touch Care outreach model. The model gives at-risk members direct one-on-one access to a clinician, and lifestyle-change education to lower members’ risk factors. Among an anonymised member group, the application of this health model resulted in a 73 percent increase in member engagement and 12.5 percent increase in treatment adherence, therefore lowering the toll of CVD among the member group.
  • Driving down health episodes by engaging with people in ways that are meaningful to them. For example, when we ran a nurse outreach and support programme in the Middle East for people who were at risk for ischemic heart disease, we saw great results for our members. There was a 5.5 percent decrease in heart attacks and 22 percent reduction in costs for our customers.
  • Driving people’s engagement in their own health. We have started running group coaching and webinars for employees. Conveniently delivered at their place of work, the programmes have seen an uptick in attendance, while our Quit Smoking coaching in Dubai saw 71% of participants give up the habit within six weeks…and stick with it.

In addition, we run health fairs at places of work. Employees can access biometric testing and discuss any resulting risk factors or concerns with an on-site nurse or doctor. A recent on-site health fair in the Cayman Islands resulted in a 32% increase in the number of individuals proactively engaging with clinicians to help manage their health conditions.

For more insights on the ways Aetna International tackles heart health, read our white papers:

At Aetna, we help people focus on staying healthy and the best possible health outcomes if they do fall ill. Customers and broker partners can find out more about the support available by contacting their Sales or Account Manager.  For those looking for an international health care benefits and wellness partner, find our contact details here.

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