ICHS recognized for superior heart health care
The American Heart Association (AHA) awarded International Community Health Services (ICHS) multiple awards for its work helping patients manage and address their diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
The AHA recognized ICHS as a leader in its efforts to help patients with diabetes and cholesterol issues, awarding the organization Gold in both categories.
That means that 25% or fewer of ICHS diabetes patients show poor control over their blood sugar levels and that 70% or more of ICHS diabetes patients have the disease under control. Additionally, 70% of patients have their cholesterol within healthy levels.
ICHS also received a Silver award for its work on managing patients’ blood pressure. More than 1,100 health care organizations were recognized for their efforts in prioritizing care for patients’ blood pressure. More than half of American adults have high blood pressure, according to the AHA.
High blood pressure control rates are declining and deaths from cardiovascular disease are on the rise, said Gerald E. Harmon, M.D., president, American Medical Association, in a news release.
“Together, we are focused on making sure physicians and all Americans—particularly those living in historically marginalized communities—have access to quality health care and the support they need to control high blood pressure and reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease,” Harmon said.
Unmanaged diabetes, blood pressure, and high cholesterol can all result in deadly cardiovascular conditions.
According to the AHA, cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death and major cause of heart attacks, strokes, and disability among people with type 2 diabetes. High cholesterol can also lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke, and high blood pressure can lead to a myriad of conditions including stroke, vision loss, heart failure, and heart attack.
ICHS’ work in these fields is especially important because of who it serves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of diabetes is higher among some racial and ethnic minority groups, with the most pronounced disparities seen among American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, and Black communities. Black and Hispanic patients are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes earlier in life and Black patients have less access to information about how to control the condition.
A study published in Preventative Medicine, an international medical journal, suggested that low incomes, lack of access to regular health care, and language barriers can lower rates of screening for high cholesterol, putting those individuals at risk for adverse complications from the condition. ICHS cares for patients like these by opening access to high-quality, low-cost health care conducted by culturally competent providers and translation services in dozens of languages.
The awards flow from AHA programs, “Target: Type 2 Diabetes,” ”Check. Change. Control. Cholesterol,” and “Target: BP.” The programs connect health centers with evidence-based information for the containment and control of the three illnesses.