WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) has started establishing a unit to systematically track
cardiovascular disease and stroke in the United States, the first step
toward an organized national surveillance system for the two conditions.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States
and stroke the number three cause.
This system will be the first of its kind in the United States. Although
well-organized national surveillance systems exist for diseases like
diabetes and cancer, no such system exists to monitor heart disease and
stroke. Currently, the United States only tracks deaths associated with the
"Our goal is not really to prevent deaths," David C. Goff, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.,
Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the Wake Forest
University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and past Chair of the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Working Group for the Public
Health Action Plan to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke, told Ivanhoe. "We
want to prevent heart attacks and strokes, and to do that, we need to know
how often they're occurring. Right now our system is a patchwork system that
mixes up first heart attacks and subsequent heart attacks."
The goal of the new surveillance unit is to track patterns of cardiovascular
disease and risk factors like smoking, obesity and exercise. Experts say
this will lead to better control over and ultimately a lower incidence of
heart disease and stroke in the United States.
"By using data-driven programs ... we can make tremendous advances within 10
or 20 years," Dr. Goff said. "We can reduce the rate of heart attack and
stroke by at least 50 percent."
The new system will add questions about cardiovascular conditions and their
risk factors to surveys like the National Health Interview Survey. Experts
also plan to tap into resources like electronic health records and public
health laboratories for information on heart disease and stroke occurrences.
SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with David C. Goff, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.; presented
at the 7th National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention, March
17-20, Washington, D.C.