Mended Hearts is a nonprofit group that helps bring hope to heart disease patients, caregivers and families.
In Alabama specifically, the local Mended Hearts group had not been active for some time. This all changed when Donnette Smith survived an aneurysm. After her aneurysm, Smith was very anxious to speak with people who had been through similar experiences, and as a result, she restarted the local Alabama chapter of Mended Hearts.
In this article, Smith talks about the dangers of heart disease in her state and some of the medical breakthroughs that could save thousands of lives but may be out of reach for many, including those with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).
The American Heart Association ranks Alabama as the second highest state for deaths each year due to heart disease. In fact, more than 12,000 people in Alabama died due to heart disease in 2010.
Mended Hearts has been focused on joining patients, state health officials, clinicians and policymakers to advocate for better cardiovascular health in Alabama.
Now, there is new hope for the people of Alabama and around the world suffering from cardiovascular disease as breakthrough cholesterol-lowering drugs make their way on the market.
For many people, like Smith herself, the traditional therapies for heart disease, such as statins, do not work. Patients with FH are especially in danger of having a heart attack or stroke because of their high levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
A new therapy called PCSK9 inhibitors, however, show much promise for FH patients and heart disease patients alike. These inhibitors extend the lifespan of a receptor on the liver that clears the LDL that FH patients suffer from.
The PSCK9 inhibitors can also lower the risks of heart attack and stroke. Unfortunately, insurance companies are a hindrance to patients getting this better treatment. Many health care plans in the U.S. financially constrict patients into more affordable but less effective treatments.
In Alabama alone, over half of the claims for PCSK9 inhibitors are rejected by healthcare plans.
Smith does not believe that insurance companies should override the power between a patient and his or her doctor’s course of action or treatment plan. Mended Hearts is now engaged in a petition to plead for help to change the growing number of rejection rates that patients face in getting new, effective cholesterol-lowering medications.