Tag Archives: heart

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.

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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 →

Alzheimer Research Cuts Show Folly of Sequestration

This post is an excerpt of a Bloomberg column by Albert R. Hunt  on how sequestration hurts medical research, especially in the fight to better understand—and hopefully cure— Alzheimer’s disease.

albert_hunt

Albert R. Hunt

Many Republicans, and Democrats, never thought the automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration would take effect. After all, they might produce dangerous, if unintended, consequences such as potentially bankrupting the U.S. health-care system, along with millions of families.

Typical Washington hyperbole, right? It actually is happening under sequestration, which kicked in three months ago, a product of America’s political dysfunction.

Because the cuts only affect the margins of a wide array of defense and domestic discretionary programs, there mostly hasn’t been an immediate pinch; the public backlash has been minimal. The long-term consequences, in more than a few cases, are ominous. Continue reading →

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 →

World Heart Day

On September 29th, World Heart Day, the global health community will raise awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD). Cardiovascular diseases range from heart failure, meaning the heart is not pumping enough blood, to a heart attack, which happens when blood vessels are damaged and blood flow to the heart is blocked. An estimated 17.3 million people died from CVD in 2008 and over 80% of all CVD deaths occur in low and middle income countries. This year, we are also raising awareness of one of CVD’s “hidden causes”: neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and of the research necessary to combat these killers.

A group of parasitic and bacterial infections that disproportionately affect people in poverty, NTDs may be an important factor in the burden of CVD in the developing world. These diseases cause fever, disfiguring sores, visual impairment and organ failure. This includes heart damage that leads to CVD later in life. Chagas disease, a parasitic infection afflicting over 10 million individuals worldwide (including an estimated 300,000 people right here in the United States), can eventually cause heart failure if the parasite damages heart tissue.  Up to 70% of individuals with African sleeping sickness will experience some degree of heart damage. Over 200 million individuals have schistosomiasis, another parasitic infection that can lead to lasting heart damage if the parasite invades the heart muscle. And dengue fever – another NTD emerging in the U.S. – has also been shown to reduce heart function in severe cases.

These risks highlight the importance of early detection and prevention of NTDs. U.S. researchers and federal agencies have made progress against many of these diseases and we must make sure to equip them with the diagnostic tools and drugs necessary to treat patients before they sustain heart damage. Similarly, improved surveillance and screening programs are needed to truly understand how many of the world’s CVD cases can be attributed to NTDs. In addition to prevention strategies like healthy eating and exercise, investment for NTD research is an important component in reducing the global burden of cardiovascular disease. To learn more about NTDs, please visit Research!America’s global health website.

-Morgan McCloskey, global health intern