Although cardiovascular diseases are largely preventable, middle-aged Americans have become at increasingly greater risk.

The age group 35 to 64 resulted in 775,000 hospitalizations and 75,000 deaths in 2016, according to a vital-signs report released Sept. 6 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blacks accounted for the highest mortality rate at 211 per 100,000 people.

“We see that individuals are not taking medications that can support their health, specifically [to] control blood pressure and cholesterol,” said Janet Wright, a certified cardiologist and executive director of the Million Hearts campaign. “We see very low levels of physical activity across all age groups and races.”

The CDC and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services co-lead the Million Hearts initiative to prevent a million heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular episodes by 2022.

Some of the strategies to improve cardiovascular health are: institute healthy food procurement and nutrition policies; enact smoke-free policies that include e-cigarettes; and design communities and streets that support physical activity.

The report didn’t delve into why cardiovascular diseases in America led to $32.7 billion in health care costs, 2.2 million hospitalizations that resulted in 415,000 deaths nationally two years ago.

According to the document, some other numbers are highlighted that include nine million people who aren’t taking aspiring as a preventive measure, 54 million adults smoke and 71 million partake in no physical activity.

Wright and Anne Schuchat, a medical doctor and CDC principal deputy director, also suggested people can watch their blood pressure with a self-measure blood pressure monitoring device. A patient can receive one through a clinician, or Medicare, to use at home.

“We know that practice helps people get to safe levels of blood pressure control, get their faster and help them maintain that level of control,” Wright said.

“We all can do more as clinicians,” Schuchat said in regards to health care providers help and work with patients. “Medicine is a team sport.”

The report also highlights varying differences of death rates throughout the country. For instance, the mortality rate ranked from the lowest at 111 per 100,000 residents in Vermont, to the highest at 267 per 100,000 in Mississippi.

D.C., experienced the highest hospitalization rate in the nation at 1,670 per 100,000 people.

Schuchat said the District’s figure rest with the regional population. Some patients who reside in neighboring Maryland and Northern Virginia travel into the city for medical services.

The CDC recommends people follow the ABCS:

A – Aspirin use when appropriate
B – Blood pressure control
C – Cholesterol management
S – Smoking cessation

If preventive measures are followed between 2017-21, it would result in a 6.1 percent reduction in cardiovascular incidents.

If not, the CDC estimates in that timeframe 16.3 million non-fatal and fatal cardiovascular-related events and almost $174 billion in hospitalization costs.

The District could experience the third highest total of cardiovascular cases just behind Texas and California.
“Health heart is serious for everyone,” Schuchat said. “Eighty percent of heart diseases and strokes are preventable. We have the evidence of what works. Now is the time for health care professionals to do more. For health care facilities and partners to do more [and] for all of us to do more. The lives of our loved ones are in the balance.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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