On October 3, after the conclusion of another successful Global Summit, the Family Heart Foundation hosted a congressional briefing at the Rayburn House Office building on Capitol Hill entitled, “Opportunities to Reduce the Rising Tide of Heart Disease Through Better LDL-Cholesterol Management.” In conjunction with the briefing, the Family Heart Foundation released a new policy paper on “Prioritizing LDL-Cholesterol Control” which contains important recommendations for policy makers, patients, healthcare practitioners, and payers.
The briefing was co-sponsored by the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) and the American Society for Preventive Cardiology (ASPC) and was attended by over 50 Family Heart Advocates for Awareness, congressional staffers, healthcare practitioners, and members of the cardiovascular advocacy community. The session was moderated by Hilly Paige, Jr, the Chief Innovation officer for the Family Heart Foundation. Panelists included Dr. Seth Baum, the Chief Scientific Officer at Flourish Research and past president of ASPC, Dr. Keith Ferdinand, the Gerald S. Berenson Endowed Chair in Preventive Cardiology and Professor of Medicine at Tulane School of Medicine, and Ora Williams, a Family Heart Foundation Advocate for Awareness. Both Drs. Baum and Ferdinand serve on the Board of Directors for the Family Heart Foundation.
Dr. Baum opened the briefing with a presentation on “LDL-Cholesterol: Why Should I Care?” He reviewed the shocking data that not only is cardiovascular disease the leading cause of death in America, but that it is actually increasing again after a long period of decline. He also reviewed the powerful evidence linking elevated LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) to cardiovascular disease and the numerous reasons why we are failing to control this important risk factor. Finally, Dr. Baum discussed the problem with national quality measures, which are no longer based on the control of LDL-C but rather on the prescribing of statins. This is different from the approaches for blood pressure and diabetes where quality of care is based on achievement of specific targets. He stated that many groups, including the Family Heart Foundation, are working to restore LDL-C measurement and control as national quality measures, and he encouraged everyone to get engaged on this issue.
Family Heart Foundation advocate Ora Williams then captivated the audience with her incredibly powerful story of the impact that familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) and elevated LDL-C have had on her family, including the loss of her son and many other family members. Her story brought to life the importance of awareness, treatment, and control of LDL-C and helped to connect the audience to the staggering toll that cardiovascular disease takes on families across America.
Finally, Dr. Ferdinand reviewed “Real-world Insights From The Family Heart Database™” on the poor state of LDL-C control in America. He said despite the fact that we have entered a golden age of cholesterol lowering therapies with many safe and effective options available for clinicians, fewer than 30% of high-risk Americans have their LDL-C adequately controlled, and 80% of healthcare practitioners are failing to use combination therapy to help patients achieve their goals. Additionally, he reviewed another recent analysis from the Family Heart Foundation that people with LDL-C levels that are persistently in the “danger zone” suffer 49% more cardiovascular events than those who keep their LDL-C levels in the “safe zone.”