Preventable Diseases and LifeVest

Ultimately, LifeVest aims to improve people’s health, especially by
preventing the occurrence of diseases. The September 21, 2012 special
issue of the journal Science focuses on disease prevention and
includes an insightful review of preventing noncommunicable diseases
such as “cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic
respiratory diseases,” which are “responsible for about two-thirds of
deaths worldwide” (Ezzati and Riboli, 2012, p. 1482). Below we share
some key points from this article and their application in LifeVest.

1. Moderate reductions in a few risk factors have great impact.

  • Among leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease are blood
    pressure, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, and smoking.Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) report that:

    • “… studies with detailed measurement of risk factors and long
      follow-up, like the Framingham Heart Study, established elevated
      blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, and excess body weight as
      some of the most important risk factors for CVD…”

    and that:

    • when “…overlaps are taken into account, these four risks together
      account for 70 to 80% of the burden of IHD [ischemic heart disease]
      and stroke…”

    Today, LifeVest incorporates blood pressure and BMI for general
    consumers and includes all four risk factors for employers.

  • For diabetes, body mass index (BMI) is a significant modifiable risk factor.Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) note that:
    • “[n]ot only does high BMI increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases
      and some cancers, it is also the most important modifiable risk
      factor for glycemia and diabetes mellitus.”

    LifeVest uses BMI and related measures like waist-to-hip ratio and
    waist-to-height ratio.

  • Small reductions in risk factors lead to large reductions in disease rates.Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) write that:
    • “…the evidence from studies of individuals and populations is by
      now equally compelling that reducing a moderate number of risk
      factors will have large benefits in CVD prevention.”

    The authors also add that:

    • “…given that the burdens of major CVDs like ischemic heart disease
      (IHD) and stroke are many times those of most cancers and other
      NCDs, reducing a prevalent risk factor like high blood pressure can
      prevent a very large number of disease cases or deaths, even if the
      reduction in risk for each individual person is modest.” Ezzati and
      Riboli (2012, p. 1485)

    LifeVest rewards any reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular
    disease and diabetes.

2. Continuously lowering risk factors up to a point provides benefit.

Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) mention that:

  • “…studies showed that the benefits of lowering blood pressure,
    cholesterol, and body weight continue to very low levels–as low as
    110 mmHg for systolic blood pressure (SBP), 3.8 mmol/L for serum
    total cholesterol (TC), and 21 kg/m2 for body mass index (BMI)…”

LifeVest does not apply arbitrary cutoffs on risk factors, but instead
rewards people more as they lower their risk factors further.

3. Decreases in disease rates appear quickly following reductions in
risk factors.

Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) discuss that:

  • “…the benefits of reducing these key CVD risks not only are very
    large but also can occur relatively fast and be fully realized
    within about 5 years, compared with about three decades for
    achieving the full benefits of smoking cessation on lung cancer and
    chronic obstructive pulmonary disease… This means that
    actions to reduce key CVD risks can have immediate benefits for
    disease prevention and also contribute to reduced demand and cost of
    specialist treatment.”

References

M. Ezzati and E. Riboli, “Can Noncommunicable Diseases Be Prevented? Lessons from Studies of Populations and Individuals,”
Science 337, 610 (2012). [DOI:10.1126/science.1227001]

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One Comment on “Preventable Diseases and LifeVest”

  1. Everything is very open with a precise description of the issues.

    It was definitely informative. Your website is very helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!


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