Tag Archives: American Heart Association

Now Is the Best Time to Take Care of the Hearts That Matter Most to You

Excerpt of an op-ed by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown published in the Huffington Post.

Nancy-Brown1Every day, all across the country, the work continues in the fight against heart disease, in ways big and small.

The medical community is on the front lines, of course, treating sick patients, helping others recover and — equally importantly — educating and encouraging others how to avoid the dangerous tentacles of the No. 1 killer of Americans.

Researchers are hard at work seeking answers. They are conceiving and refining tests that can help with diagnosis, and the medicines and equipment that can help with treatment and prevention.

Americans from other fields contribute, too, sometimes in the literal sense. Donations help fund research, and volunteers give their time to help with awareness and education campaigns.

There’s still one more big piece of this puzzle. Our nation’s lawmakers.

From city councils to statehouses, Congress to the Oval Office, our elected leaders set and maintain public health policies that govern the way we live. Their efforts in beating heart disease are evidenced in the strides made fighting tobacco use the last 50 years.

This month, the federally-designated American Heart Month, their support has been quite evident again.

Read the full op-ed here.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Moving from the Envy of the World to the Puzzle of the World

Dear Research Advocate:

NIH Director Francis Collins was recently interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article that would reinvigorate even the weariest research advocate. Dr. Collins captured the legacy and unprecedented potential of research for health, as well as the counterintuitive neglect of it, in a truly compelling manner. Dr. Collins made similarly captivating comments yesterday at the Washington Ideas Forum: “We’re going from the envy of the world,” he said, “to the puzzle of the world. Other nations are mystified that we have stopped following our own playbook — the one they are using now to drive their economy and improve health and quality of life for their own populations.”

Of course they’re mystified. Policy makers are setting Americans up for needless suffering and America up for decline. It’s past time to follow the lead of, for example, the Australian government; despite battling austerity, it has announced an increase in funding for the Australian Research Council’s research grants. And Australia is not alone — China is now on track to overtake U.S. spending (actual spending and as a percentage of GDP) within five years. Continue reading →

Take It From Tony: Investing in NIH Research Saves Lives

Excerpt of an op-ed by American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, MD, published in the Huffington Post.

2013-09-13-8494_Retouchedsample_RedSweaterCountless songs, stories and poems pay tribute to the hurt we suffer from a “broken heart.” The anguish is all too real for the tens of millions of Americans who’ve experienced the pain that occurs when a heart truly fails.

My patient, Tony Costanza, is one such person. In 1981, when Tony was 55, he began having trouble breathing. His “huffing and puffing” finally forced him to see a cardiologist. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, a life-threatening condition in which a weakened heart can no longer pump oxygen-rich blood through the body. Patients experience fatigue from oxygen deprived muscles and breathing problems from congested lungs filled with the blood backing up behind the weak heart. Tony was put on medication and told to refrain from work and get plenty of rest. He describes the fretful days and sleepless nights that followed as “one of the most frightening periods in my life, where all I heard was my heart pounding hard in my chest.”

If current trends continue, there will soon be millions more people like Tony in the United States. A study released this spring by the American Heart Association concluded that the number of people with heart failure is projected to climb 46 percent from 5 million in 2012 to 8 million in 2030 as a consequence of our aging population. The costs to treat these Americans could more than double in the same period, from $31 billion to $70 billion. This would cost every taxpayer $244 annually to care for these patients. What can we as a nation do to help treat and “mend” these “broken” hearts? In my view, the best and only way forward is by finding new ways to treat and prevent heart failure, and this starts with the kinds of medical research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Read the full op-ed here.

National Stroke Awareness Month

A Presidential Proclamation in 1989 launched National Stroke Awareness month which is celebrated every May. Strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain is clogged or bursts, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching an area of the brain. A number of factors can increase someone’s risk of stroke; including lifestyle choices that affect our cardiovascular health. But there are more complex factors including an individual’s genetic composition, age and gender. And risk factors for women can be different from those for men. You can learn more about these risk factors from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Continue reading →