Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association

Nursing Healthier Hearts, Saving Lives and Improving Communities

Heart and circulatory system diseases

Training nurses to effectively identify, prevent and manage cardiovascular disease is a cost-effective solution to the world’s leading cause of death and disability.

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Lead Organization

Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association

Madison, Wisconsin, United States

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Project Summary

Worldwide, cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, kills more people than anything else—but is preventable when identified and treated early. CVD is costly, contributing to poverty due to catastrophic health spending and high out-of-pocket expenses. It significantly impacts the economies of countries of all income levels; direct and indirect costs are estimated to reach more than $1 trillion in 2035.A growing cardiologist shortage has necessitated active involvement of nurses and advanced practice nurses in delivering quality cardiovascular care. These trusted front-line professional providers effect change, encourage behavior modifications and treatment adherence, and advocate for individuals and families. PCNA’s train-the-trainer model will amplify the success of the cardiovascular nursing certificate program to facilitate prevention, early identification and effective treatment to save lives, save money, and support communities. In concert with population-wide strategies, nurse-facilitated interventions are a cost effective ‘best buy’—with feasible implementation in low-resource settings.

Problem Statement

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart attack and stroke, is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, killing twice as many people as all cancers combined. Yet CVD is highly preventable by addressing risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet, obesity, and sedentary behaviors. Measuring blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood fats in primary care settings helps identify those at highest risk, ensuring that appropriate treatments can be initiated/continued to prevent premature deaths. Changes in diet and activity levels in recent decades have led to this healthcare crisis. Additionally, many individuals do not have a primary care system or do not seek care until later stages of CVD, leading to premature death. To prevent and control CVD, very cost-effective strategies—feasible to implement even in low-resource settings—have been identified by the World Health Organization. These population-wide and individual interventions are most effective when used in combination.Population-wide interventions include health policies that make healthy choices available and accessible, strategies to control tobacco use, access to safe walking/cycle paths to improve physical activity, taxes to reduce unhealthy food consumption, and providing healthy school meals.Individual interventions focus both on prevention of first heart attacks and strokes and managing the risk of additional events through targeting individuals with risk factors above threshold levels including cholesterol and blood pressure. These interventions can occur in primary care in low-resource settings. including by non-physician health care staff such as nurses; nurse leadership continues to expand with the growing global shortage of cardiologists.

Solution Overview

While doctors may be in short supply, nurses are capable professionals prevalent, and often under-utilized, in many communities. They are trusted sources of health information helping patients commit to life-saving behaviors and medicines. Nurses often reach individuals most in need, including those for whom preventive healthcare is a luxury. Ensuring that nurses in a wide variety of settings, including community health, are knowledgeable about CVD risk reduction, screening options, treatments, methods to help patients practice healthy behaviors, and working effectively with other healthcare team members and systems to ensure patient access to care, is a cost-effective strategy for reducing CVD risk. Coordinated activities can result in major improvements in quality of life for individuals, and cost savings for society.PCNA will identify the numbers of individuals who complete the certificate components, and report on the pre- and post-test items within the program as well as self-reported changes by those completing the certificate. Our outcomes and evaluation process will include a measure of the number of individuals who have been trained, those counseled and/or implementing behavior changes and treatments to lower risk. Over a five-year period, it is estimated that the effect will include 97,200 nurses attending training, impacting at least 4.7 million patients in various locations across the globe. PCNA will focus efforts on countries where nursing training, and standards of care may be expanded and positively influenced and where infrastructure is in place so that learnings from trainings may be implemented effectively.

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Project Funders

  • Amgen, Inc. 2018 - 2019
  • Bristol Myers-Squibb/Pfizer 2018 - 2019
  • Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Corp. 2019

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