It seems fitting that February is American Heart Month. With this in mind, and also because the heart is emblematic of Valentine’s Day, our editorial team’s content planning drew on that theme for our main feature, “Exploring the Amazing Heart” by Colin Carriker, MS, and Len Kravitz, PhD. This very fine article examines the structure, function and physiology of the heart with the objective of helping fitness professionals design more effective training programs. The piece also discusses ways you can measure clients’ progress through simple monitoring of heart rate and blood pressure.
Chocolates and Cupid aside, poor heart health has some serious implications. We all know that the many diseases related to the heart are either preventable or can be improved through dietary intervention and regular exercise. There is nothing new about this information except that statistics surrounding Americans’ heart health keep getting worse. Since it’s easy to glaze over when reading these reports for the umpteenth time, take a moment to study the following data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with new eyes, and allow these facts to penetrate the “I’ve heard this all before” barrier in your brain. We think this is frightening information, and we also think it’s worth getting worked up about:
- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
- Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in every 3 deaths in the U.S., equal to 2,200 deaths per day. For a reality check, look at “33.3% of deaths” in terms of 10 family members you know . . . without intervention, three of them will die from CVD-related illness.
- These conditions profoundly impact quality of life among those afflicted and their families. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of disability preventing people from working and enjoying family activities.
- CVD is very expensive. In 2010, heart disease and stroke hospitalizations cost the nation more than $444 billion in healthcare expenses and lost productivity. That’s almost 3% of the current national deficit of $16.3 trillion. This may not sound like a lot, but when you break it down into annual U.S. deficit accrual, it’s significant. As of this writing, the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office are projecting that the 2013 deficit will be $900 billion and $971 billion, respectively. Simple math tells us that (based on the 2010 CVD cost of $444 billion) we could theoretically cut a very big chunk of that deficit through CVD education and prevention.
We can conveniently blame government intervention or lack of intervention for a lot of things, but when we see a bottom-line figure like this for a single, mostly preventable disease, we think the American public needs to wake up and take some responsibility for what’s going on. Sadly, this is merely what CVD costs us. Imagine the additional financial burden of other obesity-related diseases. The total cost takes dollars out of the pockets of education; the arts; our infrastructure; public works; and many other programs that made this country great.
Bearing these things in mind, perhaps you have a creative idea for highlighting heart health in your community this month? We invite you to share your good ideas on IDEA’s Facebook page throughout February—so we can all benefit from each other’s creativity and experience. Again, we point you to the feature story for some great heart-related training information you can use with your apparently healthy clients.
Yours in good health,
Kathie & Peter Davis