A mature man caregiver with stethoscope and older, senior patient looking out through window.
Credit: Halfpoint Images; Getty Images

United States veterans with cardiovascular disease and stubborn high cholesterol are the focus of a new program to improve treatment and lower the risk of recurrent heart attack or stroke.

The Veterans Affairs Lipid Optimization Reimagined Quality Improvement (VALOR-QI) program is a collaborative effort between the VA and the American Heart Association. It will be implemented across 50 select VA medical centers with the goal of reaching up to 30,000 veterans over three years.

The target patients are veterans who have atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and whose low-density lipoprotein cholesterol remains at or above 70 mg/dl, despite standard care, according to the AHA. 

It is estimated that 2 million veterans have ASCVD and high cholesterol, raising their chances of adverse cardiovascular outcomes such as heart attacks, bypass surgeries, stenting procedures, amputations and strokes, AHA reported.

Great expectations

Along with identifying high-risk patients, the program will educate clinicians on ASCVD treatment guidelines and patients on how to manage their disease and cholesterol levels. Program leaders are optimistic that these efforts will improve patient health on a wide scale.

“Despite existing attempts to control cholesterol, there is still a significant population-level gap between what most ASCVD patients experience and what we believe is possible,” said Carolyn Clancy, MD, assistant under secretary for health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks at the VA.

Disparities by race, sex, ethnicity and socio-economic status contribute to this gap, she added.

“VALOR-QI aims not only to improve treatment for ASCVD, but also to redouble our efforts to find ways to overcome barriers to health equity for all veterans,” she said.

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in Americans, and is the top cause of hospitalization in the VA healthcare system, according to the VA.

Related articles:

One in five at-risk patients reject statin therapy, large study finds

Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure slashes lifetime cardiac risk by 80%

NIH: ‘Good’ cholesterol may not universally predict heart disease risk

‘Bad cholesterol’ may be catalyst for early-onset Alzheimer’s

Cholesterol, diabetes drugs lower the prevalence of age-related degenerative eye disease

Effect of statins only ‘modest’ in lowering cardiovascular risk, study finds