Stories

Stroke awareness month: Medicine can make a difference

Stroke, a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain, is the number 5 cause of death and a primary cause of disability in the United States.1


As a pharmacy benefit manager, Prime plays an important role in preventing this deadly disease.

The number one cause of stroke: High blood pressure

High blood pressure affects about 80 million Americans and is the number one cause of stroke. One in 5 Prime members are currently taking medicine to control it.2  And, according to the American Stroke Association (ASA), 3 out of 4 people who have a stroke report higher than normal blood pressure.3 Managing blood pressure is one the key actions to prevent strokes.

The good thing is it doesn’t have to be hard. Exercise, a better diet, stress management or something as simple as avoiding tobacco can all lead to better blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke. 

Another manageable risk factor: High cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol.  Too much LDL contributes to clots in arteries that could lead to high blood pressure and stroke. Statins have been shown to reduce and prevent cholesterol build up in arteries. According to a study published by the American Stroke Association, people at risk for stroke who control their high cholesterol with statins are 21 percent more likely to prevent stroke than those who don’t.4

Whether it is everyday use, inability to see results or side effects, people taking statins often don’t follow their doctor’s orders. 

A Prime study found that only 1 in 5 members at risk for heart disease were using a high-dose statin and were taking it regularly, which is the recommendation of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. This is a huge problem — not only can it negatively influence health outcomes, it can increase overall health care costs in a health system that’s already fiscally strained.

What plan sponsors can do

For medicines to work, and help prevent stroke, people have to take them as prescribed. There are many programs that can help boost adherence, such as:

  • Outreach programs that address gaps in care by proactively reaching out to members and their doctors, such as Prime’s GuidedHealth program.
  • Extended supply programs, which have been proven to improve adherence.5 
  • Value-based benefit design, which can help keep medicine affordable.

Our goal is to work with clients and health care providers to build effective managed care strategies that help people take their medicine as needed and lower the cost of treatment.

Visit our Prime Insights page to explore drug research, analyses and insights from our pharmacy experts.


Related content 

As high-cost cholesterol drugs loom, study finds statins underused

Prime’s analysis highlights the opportunity to improve statin use, even among members who may be eligible for PCSK9s. Clinically appropriate use of statins could help to reduce demand for these costly new specialty treatments.

Beyond PSCK9 prices: How valuable is coronary heart disease event prevention?

Prime identifies strategies to help health plans strive to identify and help members at increased risk of CHD events who are not receiving appropriate drug therapy or are having difficulty with adherence. 


Citations

1 - http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/About-Stroke_UCM_308529_SubHomePage.jsp

2 - Internal Prime data. (2015.)

3 - American Stroke Society. Heart disease and stroke statistics - 2016

4 - Atherosclerosis: Evolving Vascular Biology and Clinical Implications; Statins for Stroke Prevention

5 - 2. Hermes, M., P., Gleason and C.Starner. Adherence to chronic medicine therapy associated with 90-day supplies. Presented at Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. (April 2010)


About Prime Therapeutics

Prime Therapeutics LLC (Prime) helps people get the medicine they need to feel better and live well. Prime manages pharmacy benefits for health plans, employers, and government programs including Medicare and Medicaid. The company processes claims and delivers medicine to members, offering clinical services for people with complex medical conditions. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., Prime serves nearly 26 million people. It is collectively owned by 13 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, subsidiaries or affiliates of those plans. Prime has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation.  

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