Insurer's foundation heart initiative addresses cardiovascular disparities

November 27, 2016

The Independence Blue Cross Foundation Healthy Hearts Initiative aims to improve survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest, increase CPR preparedness.

Improving the health of its members and the community is integral to all health plans and heart disease remains a leading cause of death and health-related complications in the nation.

Heart disease is compounded by the fact that about 70% of Americans feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency, citing either an inability to properly administer CPR or a fear of hurting the victims, studies have found. Effective CPR provided immediately after cardiac arrest doubles a victim’s chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

The Independence Blue Cross Foundation (Foundation) Healthy Hearts Initiative (Healthy Hearts), is an example of this effort that aims to increase the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest and address disparities in cardiovascular health in underserved populations across southeastern Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, just 20.3% of people in cardiac arrest received CPR from a bystander in 2015-half of the national average (40.6%).

Through Healthy Hearts, the Foundation will support a variety of prevention strategies, such as heart screenings and CPR training. Through supporting the Mobile CPR Project, Simon’s Fund, and the CPR Ready Coalition, the Healthy Hearts initiative aims to increase access to free CPR and AED education/training and free heart screenings for community members living in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Falck

There are less targeted programs aimed at improving sudden cardiac arrest survival rates through prevention strategies. We want to share this program with other Foundations and see it replicated,” says Heather Falck, manager of Independence Blue Cross Foundation programs. “Certainly, any effort to save lives through a simple and easy program such as training more people in hands-only CPR, should be of great interest to health plan executives.”

Healthy Hearts supports the CPR Ready Coalition’s to triple overall CPR training in Greater Philadelphia and double the number of people who provide CPR after witnessing a cardiac arrest. It also supports the Mobile CPR project’s goal to train 10,000 bystanders in CPR over the next three years.

The Healthy Hearts Initiative directly aligns with the needs of patients and doctors in our region,” Falck says. “The programs under Healthy Hearts are a resource that doctors can share with their patients, and can help decrease the number of patients seeking urgent care for cardiac episodes. The programs also help patients become more aware about sudden cardiac arrest events and can build preparedness in an emergency.”