“AMERICA’S WAR ON HEART DISEASE” By SARI HARRAR – AARP Contributing Writer
Due to a steady rise in heart issues, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Heart Act, which established The National Heart Institute (now known as The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute). Those actions lead to a six-decade long reduction in heart disease. Research and treatment were the catalysts to “winning the war on heart disease”. During the period between 1950 and 2009, the death rate from heart attacks and other heart conditions fell 69%. Life expectancy for Americans increased as a result of the lowering of heart related deaths. However, in the last decade, the news is not so encouraging. “We’re looking at crisis in terms of lowering life expectancy for the first time in decades ”, says cardiologist & heart disease researcher, Sadiye Khan, M.D. A 2022 CDC report lists heart disease deaths as a major reason for the drop in life expectancy.
Between 2010 & 2020 heart disease deaths rose 8.5% for adults, ages 45-64, according to Stephan Smith, M.D., and recognized heart specialist. “For adults 65 plus, heart disease in individuals rose from 475,077 to 556,665 in 2020, however, heart disease deaths actually fell for those 65 plus adults.”
The COVID-19 epidemic accelerated the heart disease resurgence. Cedar-Sinai Hospital research found that heart disease rose 21%, in the ages 45-64, and 17.9% for those ages 65 plus. The epidemic had a wide range of negative impacts on many hearts.
All heart related diseases have risen over the decade, 2010-2020. That list of heart related diseases includes Congestive Heart Disease (the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently), Coronary Artery Disease (the vessels in the heart itself become clogged), Heart Rhythm disease, A-Fib, (the heart’s natural electric systems stop functioning), Heart Valve malfunctions (heart loses its capacity to pump enough blood).
Many heart specialist doctors name “today’s lifestyles” as the main culprit for heart disease problems. The twin epidemics of Obesity and Diabetes, a result of lifestyle, began in 1985. Obesity and Diabetes conditions often lead to Hypertension and Metabolic Syndrome issues. These are becoming much more prevalent, all resulting in increases of heart disease.
Men have a greater risk of heart disease when they are young. The opposite occurs with women, when they reach their 70’s and 80’s, they actually surpass the men’s risk.
More detailed information can be found in “AAPR The Magazine” Jan/Feb 2023 issue.