If We Know What Works, Why Are We Losing the War on Heart Disease?
In my conversations with my patients, they are often surprised by 2 facts that don’t seem to go together.
1. That heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the world.
2. That the vast majority of heart disease is preventable.
And you also may think, how can this be? How can the leading cause of death and disability be mostly preventable and yet remain the leading cause of death and disability?
The answer of course is complex, but here is why I believe we can’t rely on others to look out for our heart’s health. We need to do it ourselves.
Losing the War
It is clear that we are losing the war on heart disease. Sure we have amazing procedures and medications, but they can only do so much. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death and disability in the world.
What is particularly troublesome about this is that we know exactly how to keep your Heart healthy. Take care of 7 common sense aspects of health and your risk of heart disease is decreased by 80%. Really, 80%!
And the benefits don’t end with the Heart. These 7 good health factors cut your risk of stroke by 50%, your risk of cancer by a third and are the most effective ways to prevent dementia.
Life’s Simple 7
What are these 7 magical things? The American Heart Association calls them “Life’s Simple 7” and they are:
Manage Blood Pressure
Reduce Blood Sugar
So, not particularly surprising, mostly common sense, but when taken care of, remarkably effective at improving health, the length and the quality of life.
And how are we doing with this knowledge?
By just about any criteria, the answer is poorly. More than 9 million people die each year from heart disease. When you add stroke (the combination of stroke and heart attacks doctors call cardiovascular disease), that is 15 million deaths per year or about a death every 2 seconds)
Now back to our original question. How can this be? How can the leading cause of death and disability be mostly preventable and yet remain the leading cause of death and disability?
Follow the Money
It’s a good question, and no doubt the reasons are complex, but one factor undoubtedly is that a lot of money is made when we are sick. The financial success of the tobacco industry, the fast food industry, the soft drink industry, the healthcare industry, the pharmaceutical industry and many others depends on you making choices that make your heart sick.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to pay the bottom line of big industry with your life. It is important for you to know that your future health is in your hands.
I will continue to talk about simple steps that can keep your heart in the game.
Because You – and your heart – deserve it.
And the beat goes on,
R. Todd Hurst, MD, FACC, FASE