Repairing Hearts with Stem Cells
Reported July 27, 2011
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Preventing heart disease before it starts is a good
long-term investment in the nation's health, according to this study.
The American Heart Association’s policy statement summarizes years of research
on the value of investing in prevention, particularly through community-based
changes to make it easier to live a healthy lifestyle.
It is recommended that every dollar spent on building trails for walking or
biking saves $3 in medical costs. Companies that invest in workers' health with
comprehensive worksite wellness programs and health work environments have less
absenteeism, greater productivity and lower healthcare costs.
Initiating a nationwide plan to drastically cut the amount of salt in the food
supply to support an average intake of 1500 mg per day may reduce high blood
pressure in the country by 25 percent, saving $26 billion in healthcare costs
As a call to action, the statement puts an equal amount of responsibility on
individuals and on society — specifically federal, state and local
"People often don't realize the power to stay healthy is in their own hands,"
William S. Weintraub, M.D., lead author of the statement and the John H. Ammon
chair of cardiology and cardiology section chief at Christiana Care Health
System in Newark, Del., was quoted as saying "But it's not something many
individuals or families can do alone. It takes fundamental changes from society
as a whole."
It's more difficult to make healthy choices in some neighborhoods because it's
hard to find a safe place to bike or a nearby store with fresh vegetables at an
affordable price, he said.
"But, given the high cost of treating acute and chronic disease, prevention
offers the potential of improving health and cutting costs," Weintraub, a
professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Penn., was
quoted as saying "What we spend on cardiovascular disease is not sustainable.
But we can afford to prevent it. Ultimately, we can't afford not to."
"Individual responsibility is a crucial first step, but environmental and policy
changes are the most impactful ways to improve health," said Gordon Tomaselli,
M.D., American Heart Association president. In the statement, the American Heart
Association calls for policy-makers to ensure that:
The American Heart Association calls for policymakers to ensure that schools
include quality physical education and opportunities for physical activity in
the curriculum every day. School lunches include more fresh vegetables and
fruits and less salt and sugar. Communities are built with exercise in mind and
include sidewalks and bike trails. Less added sugars, salt and trans fats are
included in foods. Neighborhood stores — particularly those in lower income
areas — carry affordable, fresh vegetables and fruits. Smoking isn't allowed in
restaurants, the workplace and other indoor spaces. Additional taxes are added
to tobacco products to further discourage use. Smoking cessation programs are
adequately funded. Increased funding is directed toward programs that eliminate
"Heart disease is largely preventable, yet most of the funding for and the focus
on heart disease are on the back end, related to acute and chronic care — after
the damage is done," Tomaselli, professor and director of the Division of
Cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md.,
was quoted as saying. "We need to get society away from thinking we'll take care
of the disease in the future."
Deaths from cardiovascular diseases have fallen by more than 50 percent since
peaking in the 1960s. More than half of that decrease has been attributed to
prevention, due to improved management of cholesterol, blood pressure and
"Prevention will pay for itself," Tomaselli said. "Not just monetarily, but also
by lengthening and improving the quality of life people can enjoy. More
importantly, these changes won't just affect us today — they'll have a positive
impact on generations to come."
SOURCE: Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, published online
July 25, 20