Paramedics' visits with seniors result in less EMS calls and saves on emergency room trips

October 19, 2013

Montreal - Emergency Medical Service (EMS) staff are accustomed to responding to emergencies. A study presented today at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress finds they may be able to prevent many emergencies as well, judging by the preliminary success of a pilot project at a Hamilton building for seniors.

The subsidized housing complex in the study has about 280 residents, predominantly low income seniors. It's a group at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and falls. The local EMS receives frequent calls from the building.

As a pilot, two paramedics provided weekly drop-in sessions to review healthy lifestyles, measure blood pressure and assess diabetes risk and risk of falls.

Preliminary data shows a trend of up to 32 per cent reduction in EMS calls from the single building in which the program was offered, since the sessions began.

"As members of the health team on the front line, paramedics can play a valuable role in reducing the risk and improving the health of seniors," says Dr. Gina Agarwal, associate professor in the department of family medicine at McMaster University.

The sessions were well attended, with an average of 25 per cent of residents over age 65 participating during the project's eight months.

More than 60 per cent of the residents who attended the sessions had an elevated body mass index, 40 per cent reported a low level of physical activity, one-third smoked, one-third had a high salt intake, one-third had a high fat intake, and 50 per cent had high blood pressure.

Of the residents with high blood pressure, 80 per cent were already on medication for it. With their permission, the readings were conveyed to their family doctors, who could then take action like adjusting medication.

"The paramedics discussed one or two risk factors, such as smoking, lack of exercise or diet at each visit, tried to link residents to community resources and give advice, and then followed up to see how residents were managing," says Dr. Agarwal.

Paramedics made many referrals to the complex's in-house wellness exercise program, diabetes foot care and education program, and to residents' family doctors. They also made linkages with community food advisors and the quit smoking line.

"With their regular presence thanks to the weekly schedule, the paramedics seem approachable," says Dr. Agarwal. "The number of new attendees keeps rising, with word of mouth. The high number of multiple visits also indicates a hunger for this type of health information when it's so readily available."

"Communication is the key here. Discussing preventive behaviours and making the advice accessible is important for people of all age groups and backgrounds," says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson. "Community-based health programs like this can be a very effective way to promote good health and prevent chronic conditions. We can all learn from this experience."

Dr. Agarwal says the study will follow up to assess whether the risk profile of the session attendees has evolved.

The study was carried out by the department of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, in collaboration with Hamilton Paramedics Service, City of Hamilton Public Health, City Housing Hamilton, and the Community Care Access Centre.

The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
-end-
Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Vascular 2013 host organizations' policy or position. They make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. 'Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.' Heartandstroke.ca

HSF spokesperson Beth Abramson is the author of the newly released book Heart Health for Canadians.

Vascular 2013 is a unique, one-time Canadian event bringing four separate scientific meetings together under one roof: the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, the Canadian Diabetes Association/Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism Professional Conference, the Canadian Stroke Congress and the Canadian Hypertension Congress. vascular2013.ca

It is a joint initiative of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Canadian Diabetes Association/Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, the Canadian Stroke Network, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Hypertension Canada.

For more information and/or interviews, contact the VASCULAR 2013 MEDIA OFFICE AT 514-789-3402 (Oct 17-20)

OR

Massy Forget Langlois Public Relations
Christian Ahuet, Consultant
514-842-2455, ext. 29 / Cell. 514-994-7496

Congress information and media registration is at http://www.vascular2013.ca

After October 20, 2013 contact:

Jane-Diane Fraser
Heart and Stroke Foundation
jfraser@hsf.ca
613-569-4361x273

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.