It seems that every day there are new reports and studies that provide evidence of the declining health of Americans. After constant bombardment of facts and figures, even the most health-conscious people begin to ignore statistics that warn us about the dangers of smoking, the rising levels of obesity, and the preventative measures to improve our overall health. There are real causes for concern since 92% of our population is not as healthy as we should be according to a new paper published in Circulation, a journal by the American Heart Association.
Cardiovascular Disease in America
The study published in Circulation is the latest from the program National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) which has been conducting research and physical exams since the 1970s. It utilizes a rotating sample of 10,000 people between the ages of 25 and 74, evaluating the five most common risk factors of cardiovascular disease: blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and diabetes. The most recent study reveals that only 7.5% of adults were classified as low risk in all categories.
Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is a simple term that is used to describe a variety of problems resulting from atherosclerosis. The build-up of plaque within arteries restricts the blood flow and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Atherosclerosis can also lead to arrhythmia, heart failure, or heart valve problems. Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death within the United States accounting for nearly 600,000 deaths each year. This statistics means that cardiovascular disease causes one in every four deaths among Americans.
Rising Health Costs
Not only is cardiovascular disease the leading killer in America, it is also responsible for 17% of national health expenditures. Health care costs in the United States are the highest in the world and continue to grow every year. In 2008, U.S. medical expenditures accounted for 15% of the Gross Domestic Project and have been growing at an average rate of 6% each year. It is estimated that the total direct medical costs of cardiovascular disease will triple between 2010 and 2030 from $272.5 billion to $818.1 billion dollars due to an aging population and the growth of per capita medical spending. The facts and statistics are very shocking, but they are simply projections based on current trends. These medical expenses can be curbed or even prevented if people take responsibility for their own health.
Prevention and Treatment
Cardiovascular disease is largely preventable. The first step to reclaiming control is to reduce your risk factors through a healthy diet and lifestyle. The most important risk factors to eliminate are blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. As is often the case, the answer is a better diet, regular exercise, and early detection. These factors are controllable by every individual since you are responsible for what you put into your body and how much physical activity you do. It is all too easy to resort to processed and fast food since it is everywhere, but planning your meals and ensuring proper nutrition is vital to personal health and prevention of heart disease.
You should consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimes so they can help guide you to a happy, healthier life. Exercise does not always mean joining a gym and your doctor can help you find activities that you enjoy, keeping you healthy at the same time. You should also receive regular physical exams for early detection of any problems, especially if you have a family history of heart conditions.
For those who already suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, there have been many technological and medical advancements to assist. Every year, there are new supplements and pharmaceutical drugs that are introduced to the market that can help regulate and control these conditions to lower the risk factors and reduce your risk of contracting heart disease. You should discuss your options with your doctor to determine what products are best for you.
- License: Creative Commons image source