Weekly review of healthy lifestyles by paramedics prevents emergencies in elderly patients

Emergency medical services may be able to prevent emergencies and traumatic injuries in elderly patients by reviewing healthy lifestyles weekly, according to a study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

In a pilot study, two paramedics provided weekly drop-in sessions to review healthy lifestyles, measure blood pressure and assess diabetes risk and risk of falls at a subsidized housing complex with about 280 residents with increased risk of diabetes, falls and cardiovascular risk.

An average of 25% of residents older than 65 years participated during the 8-month project. According to the researchers, more than 60% of the residents who attended had an elevated body mass index, 40% reported a low level of physical activity, one-third smoked, one-third had a high salt intake, one-third has a high fat intake and 50% has high blood pressure. Eighty percent of the patients with high blood pressure were on medication and the paramedics conveyed the readings to the residents’ family physicians, who could then adjust the medication.

Overall, researchers found a 32% reduction in EMS calls from the building where the program was offered since the sessions started.

“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,” Gina Agarwal, associate professor in the department of family medicine at McMaster University, stated in a press release. “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.”

An additional study will assess whether the risk profile of the session attendees has evolved.

For more information:

Agarwal G. A community health and wellness pilot in a subsidized seniors’ apartment building: CHAP-EMS. Presented at: Canadian Cardiovascular Congress; Oct. 17-20, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Disclosure: Agarwal reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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