Evidence and Resources to Improve Overall Heart Health

The AHRQ EvidenceNOW initiative focused on improving the "ABCS" of cardiovascular care—Aspirin for those at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation. Although there are dozens of resources helpful to both clinicians and patients for education about and implementing interventions relevant to each specific ABCS domain, there are other PCOR evidence-based materials that address more than just one of the ABCS to improve overall heart health.

EvidenceNOW used a wide variety of materials to increase the delivery of the ABCS in primary care and promote improvements in overall heart health. These materials include general information about cardiovascular risk reduction, guidance on improving diet and physical activity, direction on implementing risk calculators that can be used by practices and patients, practical advice on overcoming barriers to improve heart health, patient education and engagement materials, and much more.  

The ABCS of heart health include Aspirin-use, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation.

Resources for Improving Overall Heart Health

Guidelines and Recommendations

Behavioral Counseling to Promote a Healthful Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adults with Cardiovascular Risk Factors

This is a summary of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation on lifestyle counseling for adults at high risk for CVD.

EvidenceNOW ABCS Fact Sheets

This series of fact sheets summarizes recommendations for the ABCS of heart health: Aspirin therapy for secondary prevention of heart disease, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation in adults. These guidelines formed the basis for the EvidenceNOW Initiative.

Resources for Practices

Heart Risk Calculator

Based on the 2017 update to the ACC/AHA 2013 Cardiovascular Risk Calculator/Guideline on the Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk, this web-based calculator allows clinicians or their patients to plug in weight, age, and other information to calculate the risk of heart disease.

Assessing Cardiovascular Risk: Systematic Evidence Review From the Risk Assessment Work Group, 2013

This comprehensive evidence report is from the Risk Assessment Work Group convened by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to conduct a systematic evidence review and develop an approach to quantitative risk assessment to guide care.

Discussing ASCVD Risk Score With Patients: Quantifying Treatment Effect

This presentation discusses ways providers can integrate calculation and discussion of ASCVD risk score into patient visits.

Pre-Visit Planning Tool for the ABCS

Practice staff can fill out this one-page checklist before a patient visit to highlight essential information about that patient’s ABCS status and flag upcoming care needs in the electronic health record.

Prevention and Care Dashboard—Hub Quality Measures Checklists

This section (pages 112–141) of the ABCS Toolkit for the Practice Facilitator contains checklists to help practices track quality measures for heart health and other important screenings.

Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

These slides and script from a 12-minute video address secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, including a review of issues in medical therapy (lipid lowering therapy, antiplatelet agents, and blood pressure control) and lifestyle interventions for patients with a history of CVD.

Maximizing Medication Adherence to Improve Heart Health NOW! Why, When, and How to Do It

These slides and script are from a 10-minute video that covers medication adherence to improve heart health, including the rationale for addressing adherence, as well as when and how to address it with patients.

Calculating Risk for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

These slides and script are from a 13-minute video that covers risk calculation for cardiovascular disease and how to use a risk-based approach with patients to prevent and treat CVD.

Cardiovascular Risk Management in Primary Care

This three-page, facts-at-a-glance handout for clinicians explains how to use and discuss the cardiac risk calculator with patients as well as guidelines for statin intensity levels.

Number-needed-to-treat (NNT) to prevent one ASCVD event over a 10 year period

This one-page handout for clinicians compares the number needed to treat with statins compared with other primary care interventions, such as nicotine replacement for smokers and lung cancer screening.

Workflow, Protocol, and Clinical Decision Support for Cardiovascular Risk Assessment

This one-page workflow chart and decision aid helps practice staff collect and track data for cardiovascular risk assessment.

How to Use a Cardiovascular Risk Estimator

This 7-minute online video explains how to integrate the cardiovascular risk estimator into office visits to engage patients in improving their heart health.

The ABCS Metrics: The Evidence, the Conversation, and the Decision

These slides are from a webinar about the ABCS measures and how they can be used to engage patients in patient-centered communication and shared decisionmaking about heart disease prevention.

Measure Handout

This two-page chart contains CMS measure numbers, National Quality Foundation measure numbers, measure titles and other information.

Lifestyle Interventions to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk: Systematic Evidence Review From the Lifestyle Work Group, 2013

This comprehensive evidence report is from the Lifestyle Work Group convened by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to conduct a systematic evidence review of the role of dietary patterns, nutrient intake, and physical activity in CVD risk.

Managing Overweight and Obesity in Adults: Systematic Evidence Review From the Obesity Expert Panel, 2013

This comprehensive evidence report is from the Obesity Expert Panel convened by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to conduct a systematic evidence review and develop clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults.

Cardiovascular Risk Barriers Educational Outreach Visits Worksheet

This worksheet for practice facilitators describes how to work with practices to break down four key messages about lowering cardiovascular disease risk.

Resources for Practices to Use With Patients

Patient Handout: Behavioral Counseling to Promote a Healthful Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adults with Cardiovascular Risk Factors

This fact sheet for patients explains the recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on lifestyle counseling for adults at high risk for CVD.

Recipe Cards for CVD Health

These index card-sized cards offer a menu of “recipes for health” that clinicians can use to talk to patients about health goals and make recommendations to encourage heart health.

“One Heart” Brochure

This illustrated brochure explains how plaque buildup can silently lead to heart disease and suggests questions patients can ask and actions they can take to understand and reduce their risk of heart disease.

“One Heart” Risk Factor Checklist

This checklist is designed to be used in conjunction with the One Heart brochure to help patients focus their office visit on addressing risk factors for heart disease.

Prevent Second Chances Roadmap

Modeled after folding road maps, this trifold brochure reviews how the ABCS of heart care can help prevent heart disease.

CVD Dashboard Poster

This poster uses the imagery of a car dashboard to make the point that patients can drive heart health and reduce their risk of heart disease.

Heart-Healthy Eating Mediterranean Style

This one-page handout for patients explains the Mediterranean style of eating that emphasizes vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, with fish twice a week and smaller portions of meat.

Page last reviewed August 2018
Page originally created August 2018
Internet Citation: Evidence and Resources to Improve Overall Heart Health. Content last reviewed August 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/evidencenow/heart-health/overall/index.html