The Wall Street Journal, in a front-page article Heart Disease Roars Back, (6/22- 23/19) reported on what for many seems shocking – the fact that stroke and heart disease is significantly on the rise. This is a surprising turnaround as medical experts were making considerable progress in reducing heart and stroke mortality with new pharmaceuticals, anti-smoking education and surgical advances in such things as stent clearing techniques and technologies.
I will be quite blunt – despite all the progress, it is not surprising to me in the least that stroke, and heart disease are on the uptick! Why you may ask!
Fast Food’s Role in Obesity
As one of many examples I could cite, just look at the lines of cars winding their way around fast food outlets like McDonald’s and Taco Bell, just to name a few. The food in these places is nearly all high fat and high caloric, or very high fat and very high caloric. Even in Starbucks, where you can get a cup of Joe with little or no fat, and few calories, many patrons seem to purchase the high calorie drinks topped with whipped cream. And to top it off, lots of these patrons don’t even want to walk the ten steps to enter the store – rather sitting in their cars, usually on their phones, as they go thru the drive -in lanes.
High fat and calories with little or no physical activity – that’s the formula for elevated STROKE AND CARDIAC RISK that we at Stroke Recovery Foundation highlight in our 11 Pillars of Stroke Prevention™!
Let’s get a little historical perspective. For six decades the mortality rate of cardiovascular disease and stroke had fallen 70% until 2011 according to mortality data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and reported in the WSJ article. Since 2011, progress has stalled dramatically though I believe in part that medical advances have resulted in less mortality, though occurrences happened, only they were not fatal. This is data which the article did not directly address. For example, stroke has fallen from the 4th highest reason for death to the 5th highest reason, leaving more live survivors with disabilities of one kind or another.
Obesity Causing Rapid Growth in Younger Set
An alarming trend is that the fastest growing age segment for stroke and cardiac events has gotten much younger. The 45-65 age category is growing fastest. Dr. Sadiya Khan, Asst Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and a cardiologist noted “I think obesity is the new smoking in terms of contribution to heart disease”. And Dr Steven Nissen, Chief Academic Officer at Cleveland Clinic mentioned that “now the patients are younger, more obese, much less likely to be smokers and include more woman – many are unaware they are at risk.”
The article goes on to cite more reinforcing data and several stories of younger patients such as actor Luke Perry who died of a stroke at age 52 and 51-year-old filmmaker John Singleton who also succumbed to a stroke.
Dr. Nissan nailed it – there is a great need for more awareness of the risks associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Also, the implications of Type 2 diabetes which is obesity related, and the lack of knowledge of the lowered blood pressure guidelines. And certainly few 45-year-olds, or woman, have stroke on their radar. If they are obese, they should!
Few people want a stroke or cardiac event, even a minor one!
11 Pillars of Stroke Prevention™
With that thought in mind, may I respectfully suggest a careful look at our website www.StrokeRecoveryFoundation.org and take to heart (no pun intended) our 11 Pillars of Stroke Prevention™. We offer Corporate Workshops to attain a more heart and stroke healthy workforce as well as personal coaching to help you create a happy, satisfying more heart and stroke friendly lifestyle.
For more information please email info@StrokeRF.org.