The Number One Killer and Most Preventable Disease Is Also The Most Expensive Health Condition According To The CDC
Heart disease, once an illness of the rich, is the number one killer in the United States and it's affecting more and more people in poor countries around the world.
The result is that people are dying young -- in their most productive economic years and costs to help manage the disease have skyrocketed.
Treating people with cardiovascular disease results in costs for each U.S. state that range from $411 million to $26 billion yearly, according to the CDC report. In addition, the costs of absenteeism (days of lost work) due to cardiovascular disease fall between $23 million and $1.3 billion for each state yearly, the report said.
Even though daily physical activity is often found to be as effective as drugs at reducing the risk of death for many types of diseases, only a small percentage of the population commits to this lifestyle.
"People eat too poorly, exercise too little and commit to lifestyles which cause the cardiovascular system too much harm," says cardiologist Dr. Paige Denello.
There are many estimation "Heart Disease Risk" calculators, however their accuracy is average to good. The numbers in the report come from a CDC tool called the Chronic Disease Cost Calculator, and one of the reasons the researchers wrote the report was to demonstrate exactly what the tool can do, said Justin Trogdon, an associate professor of health policy and management at the University of North Carolina and a lead author of the new report, published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.
The tool produced data showing that the costs of cardiovascular disease vary across the states; Alaska spends $411 million a year on cardiovascular disease, whereas California, with its much larger population, spends approximately $26.1 billion a year, when the costs of both medical care and absenteeism are added together for these states.
There are two reasons why some diseases are more expensive than others, Trogdon said. Diseases that are very common have higher costs, because such a large number of people need to be treated -- this is the case with diabetes, he said. But a disease can also have a large economic impact if it is rare, but expensive to treat, as is the case with congestive heart failure, he said.
"More people need to pay attention to diet to prevent heart disease," says Dr. Denello.
Most Preventable Disease In a Heavily Misinformed Population
Perhaps one of the biggest health myths propagated in western culture and certainly in the United States, is the misuse of an invented term "bad cholesterol" by the media and medical community. Moreover, a scientifically-naive public has been conned into a fraudulent correlation between elevated cholesterol and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Cholesterol has not been shown to actually cause CVD. To the contrary, cholesterol is vital to our survival, and trying to artificially lower it can have detrimental effects, particularly as we age.
There are also a number of underlying determinants of CVDs, or, if you like, "the causes of the causes". These are a reflection of the major forces driving social, economic and cultural change including globalization keeping most people sick indefinitely. Yet CVD remains the most preventable disease of all since it is directly preventable through modification of lifestyle initiatives.
Epidemiologic research estimates that 280,000 die each year from iatrogenic causes in the United States. One of the largest determinants of CVD death is the advancement of the pharmaceutical industrial complex and long-term medications.
Drugs such as Vioxx, Lipitor, Mevacor, Crestor are causing and have caused millions of deaths worldwide and the number of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures performed in cardiology to promote and market these types of medications continues to grow. Current day cardiologic interventions and procedures are far more deadly to patients than lack of exercise or poor dietary habits, yet this is rarely if ever discussed in mainstream discussion.
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.