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Texas Governor Signs Landmark Early Heart Disease Detection Screening Legislation
Experts Say Tests Can Save Thousands of Lives, Reduce Healthcare Costs

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SHAPE Society

Texas State Capitol Building
Texas State Capitol
   

June 22, 2009 -- Today Governor Rick Perry of Texas signed HB1290, the nation's first preventive cardiovascular screening bill for early detection of coronary artery disease.

The legislation, which will take effect on September 1, requires Texas insurers to pay up to $200 for a either a non-contrast computed tomography (CT) scan measuring coronary artery calcification, commonly known as a Calcium scoring exam, or ultrasonography for measuring carotid intima-media thickness and plaque.

The reimbursement is being made available to men between 45 and 76 years of age and women between 55 and 76 who are either diabetic or who have an intermediate or higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, based on the Framingham Heart Study coronary prediction algorithm. The test may be conducted every five years by a certified laboratory.

Making these screening exams widely available has been a primary mission of a group of distinguished preventive cardiologists and academic cardiovascular specialists from the Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication (SHAPE), a Houston-based non-profit organization advocating for early detection of future heart attack victims.

As previously reported by Angioplasty.Org, an analysis extrapolated from the SHAPE Task Force Report (published in the American Journal of Cardiology July 2006) showed that the preventive screening of asymptomatic men and women could have the following outcomes:
  • Prevent more than 4,300 deaths from cardiovascular disease each year in Texas.
  • Reduce the history of heart attack– currently estimated to be 1.4 million – by as much as 25 percent in the Texas Population.
  • Save approximately $1.6 billion in healthcare costs annually.
Prediman K. Shah, MD
Prediman K. Shah, MD
   

"The passage of the first preventive cardiovascular screening bill is a great opportunity...to help save the lives of thousands of Texans whose hidden heart disease goes undetected and hence untreated, partly because non-invasive screening for hidden plaque in the arteries is not covered by healthcare providers," said Dr. P.K. Shah, Director of Cardiology at Cedars Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, a principal member of the SHAPE Task Force and an active member of the American Heart Association.

"It can open a new path in preventive cardiovascular care, the implications of which go beyond Texas."

"At one time, using imaging technologies, like mammography and colonoscopy, to screen for cancer seemed like an impractical idea, but after reimbursement approval, they have become part of everyday medicine and have saved countless lives," said Dr. Harvey Hecht, a prominent preventive cardiologist at the Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute in New York, who is also a member of the SHAPE Task Force.

Heart disease has been the number one killer in the U.S. since 1902 (except during the pandemic flu of 1918). According to Texas Department of State Health Services, 32% of all deaths in Texas are caused by cardiovascular disease. In 2007, over 1,441,000 people in Texas reported that they have had heart disease or stroke. With increasing Hispanic population in Texas, obesity, diabetes and heart disease is weighing on Texas more than other states.

    Harvey S. Hecht, MD
Harvey S. Hecht, MD

"This is a monumental legislation that can become a bold milestone in the history of eradicating heart attacks in decades to come," said Dr. Morteza Naghavi, founder of SHAPE, and Chairman of the SHAPE Task Force who testified at the Texas House of Representative. We are proud that Texas is poised to be the first to take this pioneering step towards a true cardiovascular healthcare beyond the existing cardiovascular sick-care," added Naghavi, whose invention at the University of Texas in Houston was funded by the State of Texas Emerging Technology initiative for commercialization.

The Texas legislation is the first in the United States to mandate the careful and responsible implementation of a comprehensive heart attack risk assessment and reduction strategy. It closely follows the SHAPE Guideline for identification of apparently healthy individuals who have a high risk of a near future heart attack but are unaware of their risk. Approved screening procedures include: 1) the measurement of coronary artery calcium score (CACS) by CT; and 2) the measurement of carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and plaque by ultrasonography.

These two non-invasive screening tests have proven by the National Health Institute studies to be strong predictors of those who are vulnerable to a heart attack or stroke.

SHAPE logo
    About SHAPE
Originated from the Texas Medical Center in Houston, the Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication (SHAPE) is a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Morteza Naghavi, a former faculty of the Texas Heart Institute and the University of Texas in Houston.

The mission of SHAPE is to promote education and research related to mechanism, prevention, detection, and treatment of heart attacks. The organization is committed to raising public awareness about recent revolutionary discoveries that opened exciting new avenues to prevent heart attack. SHAPE’s mission is to eradicate heart attacks in the 21st century. Additional information is available on the organization's Web site at www.shapesociety.org or call 1-877-SHAPE11

About SHAPE Task Force
Chairman: Morteza Naghavi, M.D. Editorial Committee: Prediman K. Shah, M.D. (Chief); (alphabetic order): Raymond Bahr, M.D., Daniel Berman, M.D., Roger Blumenthal, M.D., Matthew J. Budoff, M.D., Jay Cohn, M.D., Erling Falk, M.D., Ph.D., Ole Faergeman, M.D., Zahi Fayad, Ph.D., Harvey S. Hecht, M.D., Wolfgang Koenig, M.D., Ph.D., Daniel Lane, M.D., Ph.D., Morteza Naghavi, M.D., John Rumberger, M.D., Ph.D., Allen J. Taylor, M.D. Writing Group: Erling Falk, M.D., Ph.D. (Coordinator); (alphabetic order): Juhani Airaksinen, M.D., Dan Arking, Ph.D., Juan Badimon, Ph.D., Raymond Bahr, M.D., Daniel Berman, M.D., Matthew J. Budoff, M.D., Jay Cohn, M.D., Jasenka Demirovic, M.D., Ph.D., George A. Diamond, M.D., Pamela Douglas, M.D., Ole Faergeman, M.D., Zahi Fayad, Ph.D., James A. Goldstein, M.D., Harvey S. Hecht, M.D., Victoria L.M. Herrera, M.D., Sanjay Kaul, M.D., M.P.H., Wolfgang Koenig, M.D., Ph.D., Robert A. Mendes, M.D., Morteza Naghavi, M.D.; Tasneem Z. Naqvi, M.D., Ward A. Riley, Ph.D., Yoram Rudy, PhD, John Rumberger, M.D., Ph.D., Leslee Shaw, Ph.D., Robert S. Schwartz, M.D., Arturo G. Touchard, M.D. Advisors (alphabetic order): Arthur Agagston, M.D., Stephane Carlier, M.D., Ph.D., Raimund Erbel, M.D., Chris deKorte, Ph.D., Craig Hartley, Ph.D., Ioannis Kakadiaris, Ph.D., Roxana Mehran, M.D., Ralph Metcalfe, Ph.D., Daniel O'Leary, M.D., Jan Nilsson, M.D., Gerard Pasterkamp, M.D., Ph.D., Paul Schoenhagen, M.D., Henrik Sillesen, M.D., Ph.D.

Reported by Burt Cohen, June 22, 2009 with supplemental material from SHAPE