(BPT) - This article is developed and sponsored by the Amarin Group of Companies.
In popular culture, the heart is often seen as a symbol of love and passion. Unfortunately, we sometimes take our hearts for granted.
The heart is the amazing centerpiece of the human cardiovascular system.i It’s the first organ to begin functioning while a baby is growing in the womb.i The mature heart has strong muscular walls which contract to pump blood through the entire body using an extensive blood vessel network of arteries, veins and capillaries to provide essential oxygen and nutrients. The heart even has its own electrical system which controls the rate and rhythm of its beat — managing a staggering average of 115,000 beats per day!ii
When the heart is working well, you may not think about it much. However, it’s better to think about it now, so you can enjoy it for many years to come.
Here are some eye-opening facts about heart disease to consider:
- Heart disease is the deadliest disease in the U.S. Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the United States, according to 2016 mortality data.iii Cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year than cancer and chronic lung disease combined.iii Moreover, despite years of decline in mortality rate, deaths from cardiovascular diseases have been rising again since 2012.iii
- Heart disease is costly. Approximately one in six U.S. healthcare dollars is spent on cardiovascular disease, according to the CDC Foundation.iv A study done using data from over 63,000 Medicare patients between 2005 to 2011 found that the average cost for a single cardiovascular-related hospitalization, per patient, was $16,000.v Cardiovascular events, such as strokes and heart attacks, are highly expensive and debilitating, and often lead to years of follow-on costs of care and rehabilitation.
- Heart disease has clear risk factors. While obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are more commonly recognized risk factors for heart conditions, others are less known.vi Adults with diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease — at least 68 percent of people age 65 or older with diabetes die from some form of heart disease.vii And, high triglycerides have also been found to be a marker of cardiovascular risk.viii
- Heart disease affects younger people too. What's particularly alarming is that the rate of heart attacks for people under 40 is increasing.ix Cardiac disease should no longer be characterized as part of an “old man’s disease.”x
These are just a handful of concerning facts about heart disease to remind you of the importance of your heart. Don’t take your heart health for granted! Especially since there are things you can do to help protect your heart.
Start by adopting healthy lifestyle habits like eating well and staying active. Know the risks for heart disease, especially as science and understanding of heart disease continue to progress. Don’t just rely on what your neighbor might say or what you thought to be true in the past — get the facts. Have a frank conversation with your doctor about heart health and what you can do to reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease. Take medications as prescribed.
Medical societies like the American Diabetes Associationxi and the American Heart Association,xii are regularly updating their treatment guidelines and standards of care informed by new studies to provide guidance on the best ways to prevent heart disease. Use your doctor and other members of your healthcare team as a resource for developing a plan that keeps your heart as healthy as possible for many years to come.
[i] “How the Heart Works.” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/how-heart-works
[ii] “All About Heart Rate (Pulse).” American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/all-about-heart-rate-pulse
[iii] Benjamin EJ, Muntner P, Alonso A, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, Chamberlain AM, Chang AR, Cheng S, Das SR, Delling FN, Djousse L, Elkind MSV, Ferguson JF, Fornage M, Jordan LC, Khan SS, Kissela BM, Knutson KL, Kwan TW, Lackland DT, Lewis TT, Lichtman JH, Longenecker CT, Loop MS, Lutsey PL, Martin SS, Matsushita K, Moran AE, Mussolino ME, O’Flaherty M, Pandey A, Perak AM, Rosamond WD, Roth GA, Sampson UKA, Satou GM, Schroeder EB, Shah SH, Spartano NL, Stokes A, Tirschwell DL, Tsao CW, Turakhia MP, VanWagner LB, Wilkins JT, Wong SS, Virani SS; on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2019 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2019;139:e1–e473. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000659.
[iv] “Heart Disease And Stroke Cost America Nearly $1 Billion A Day In Medical Costs, Lost Productivity.” CDC Foundation, 29 April 2015, https://www.cdcfoundation.org/pr/2015/heart-disease-and-stroke-cost-america-nearly-1-billion-day-medical-costs-lost-productivity
[v] Kilgore, Meredith et al. “Economic burden of hospitalizations of Medicare beneficiaries with heart failure.” Risk management and healthcare policy vol. 10 63-70. 10 May. 2017, doi:10.2147/RMHP.S130341
[vi] “Atherosclerosis.” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/atherosclerosis
[vii] “Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes.” American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/why-diabetes-matters/cardiovascular-disease--diabetes
[viii] Toth PP, Granowitz C, Hull M, et al. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018;7(15):e008740.
[ix] “Why Are Heart Attacks on the Rise in Young People?” Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials, 26 April 2019, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-are-heart-attacks-on-the-rise-in-young-people/
[x] “Heart attacks are becoming more common in younger people, especially women.” American Heart Association News, 12 November 2018, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/11/12/heart-attacks-are-becoming-more-common-in-younger-people-especially-women
[xi] “American Diabetes Association Issues Critical Updates to the 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes.” American Diabetes Association, 27 March 2019, https://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2019/ada-issues-critical-updates-to-2019-standards-of-care
[xii] Arnett DK, Blumenthal RS, Albert MA, Buroker AB, Goldberger ZD, Hahn EJ, Himmelfarb CD, Khera A, Lloyd-Jones D, McEvoy JW, Michos ED, Miedema MD, Muñoz D, Smith SC Jr, Virani SS, Williams KA Sr, Yeboah J, Ziaeian B. 2019 ACC/AHA guideline on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2019;140:e596–e646. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000678