San Diego Panel Discusses Recommendations for State Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Treatment System
Heart disease and stroke experts from several San Diego-area medical facilities recently held a forum to discuss possible remedies for addressing the "growing epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and obesity" across the state, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The forum, held at the University of California-San Diego, is one of seven to be held statewide to offer recommendations to the state's newly created Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Treatment Task Force. The task force is charged with developing a "master plan" for reducing disability and death due to heart disease in California. The UCSD panel included participants from Kaiser Permanente, UCSD Medical Center, San Diego County Health and Human Services and Scripps Mercy. The recommendations included:
- Placing higher taxes on junk food and cigarettes;
- Banning junk food from school and beach vending machines;
- Discouraging children from playing video games and watching television;
- Making physical exercise in schools a priority;
- Establishing culturally-sensitive educational programs to impact growing obesity rates in Hispanic and black populations;
- Creating better monitoring systems so that patients with heart disease and stroke risk take drugs like aspirin to reduce their risk;
- Creating incentives for health workers to lose weight and offer patients a better example;
- Providing hospitals with incentives to promote healthy habits instead of reimbursing them only for treating the results of poor diet and lack of exercise;
- Creating a statewide system for treating emergency heart and stroke patients similar to local trauma systems.
According to the Union-Tribune, many of the panelists were concerned with San Diego's "lack of a system...in which patients with strokes or heart attacks would be taken to hospitals best able to treat them instead of to the closest one." Small hospitals say such a system would result in unfair patient distribution and hurt their bottom line. Dr. Jim Dunford, medical director of San Diego's Emergency Medical Services system, said another reason San Diego has not created a system for treating heart emergencies is that the government has not purchased electrocardiogram equipment for ambulances so that paramedics can distinguish patients who are having heart attacks from patients with other conditions. Dunford said that the issue will be discussed in the next few months (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/5).
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