HAYWARD, Calif., July 14, 2005
Improved access to preventive
cholesterol screenings for the 39 million Medicare-eligible beneficiaries was
one goal of the landmark Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.
According to a
recent survey of primary care physicians, improved Medicare coverage of
cholesterol blood tests may have increased screening among seniors by up to 20
Commissioned by Cholestech, a leading manufacturer of point of care
cholesterol testing devices, the qualitative survey measured the awareness and
impact of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) ruling, which
guarantees access to preventive cholesterol screenings for Medicare
Results showed that nearly two thirds of physicians surveyed
were aware of the increased reimbursement and 21 percent have increased
preventive cholesterol screening among their Medicare patients since the
coverage went into effect in January of 2005.
"At a time when healthcare expenditures are under continuous scrutiny, CMS
increased coverage and therefore, access to preventive cholesterol screenings
with the goal of improving cardiac care," said Warren E. Pinckert II,
president and CEO of Cholestech.
"It is clear that this bold move is paying
off and more seniors are getting screened -- a vital step in the
identification of people at risk and the prevention of cardiovascular
More than 400,000 seniors die from cardiovascular disease annually,
representing 84 percent of the total number of cardiovascular deaths in the
Further, it is estimated that 25 to 29 million
Medicare-eligible seniors suffer from either coronary heart disease (CHD) or
hardening of the arteries.
Since cholesterol remains one of the leading risks
for cardiovascular disease, the National Cholesterol Education Program,
developed by the National Institutes of Health, recommends that more than 200
million Americans need to be screened annually.
All Medicare beneficiaries now have access to preventive cholesterol
screening blood tests for the early detection of cardiovascular disease and
all new Medicare members will be covered for an initial physical examination.
Both include the use of three tests to detect early risk for cardiovascular
disease, including total cholesterol, an HDL cholesterol, and a triglycerides
test, which can be ordered as a lipid panel or individually.
Previously, Medicare beneficiaries were only covered for cholesterol tests
if they suffered from diagnosed illnesses such as heart disease, stroke,
diabetes or other disorders associated with elevated cholesterol levels.
many cases, eligible seniors were already victims of one or more conditions
that cholesterol screening might have caught and treatment may have prevented.
Using a simple finger-stick, the Cholestech LDX(R) point of care system
supports the measurement of cholesterol, glucose and liver enzymes, ALT and
AST, and soon, high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). This enhances
the ability to quickly identify patients with the most prevalent risk factors
for heart disease and offer treatment or counseling in the same office visit.
Generating comprehensive, lab-accurate results in minutes, the LDX System
enables physicians to focus on getting patients on the right treatment sooner
and making sure they stay on the right therapeutic mix, rather than chasing
down lab results.
The Cholestech LDX System has been certified by the Cholesterol Reference
Method Laboratory Network (CRMLN), which validates that the system
consistently meets the gold standard for accuracy and reproducibility
developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the
measurement of total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol consistent with National
Cholesterol Education Program analytical goals.
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