Health IT Cuts Heart Attack Risk

Electronic medical records played a key role in lowering cholesterol in people at very high risk for heart disease to levels considered by many health experts to be unattainable, reports Kaiser Permanente.

Electronic medical records played a key role in lowering cholesterol in people at very high risk for heart disease to levels considered by many health experts to be unattainable, reports Kaiser Permanente.

A study of 7,247 patients being treated by Kaiser found that more than 43 percent decreased their low-density lipoprotein (DLS), the so-called "bad cholesterol," from 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood to 70 mg/dL. The Journal of Clinical Lipidology published the study in its May issue.

"Kaiser Permanente's integrated care delivery model, supported by electronic medical records and health information technology, has great benefits for patients with heart disease over the long term," said study author Kari Olson, a clinical pharmacy specialist at Kaiser Permanente Colorado, in a news release. "We believe our patients achieved their cholesterol goals at higher rates because of our proactive team approach, close monitoring and follow--up, and the computer systems we have in place."

In 2004, the National Cholesterol Education Program revised LDL target goals for at-risk patients from 100 mg/dL to 70 mg/dL. Even so, fewer than 50 percent of people with heart disease succeed in reducing their LDL to less than 100 mg/dL.

"Managing cholesterol in patients is difficult, and we know it's much more than writing a prescription and hoping individuals take the medication," said co-author Amy Kauffman, a clinical pharmacy specialist at Kaiser Permanente Colorado. "Our study suggests that a combination of care coordination, technology, and close monitoring and follow-up may ultimately get more people to the aggressive cholesterol targets over the long term."