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31-07-2011 | Cardiology | Article

AHA calls for investment in heart disease prevention

Abstract

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MedWire News: Preventing heart disease before it starts is a good long-term investment, says the American Heart Association in a policy statement.

"Given the high cost of treating acute and chronic disease, prevention offers the potential of improving health and cutting costs," explained William Weintraub (Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) in a press statement.

The policy statement, published in the journal Circulation, calls for several primary prevention strategies to reduce the incidence of heart disease at a nationwide level. These include community-based programs such as worksite wellness programs, and school-based initiatives to promote healthy eating and physical activity.

In addition, the authors say, building trails for walking or biking in communities could result in substantial savings in medical costs.

Further, they recommend the implementation of a nationwide plan to cut the amount of salt in food.

"Reducing population sodium intake to 1500 mg per day may reduce high blood pressure in the country by 25%, saving US$ 26 billion (€ 18 billion) in healthcare costs annually," they write.

Weintraub et al say that comprehensive smoke-free air laws should be applied in public buildings such as restaurants, workplaces, and other indoor spaces. They propose that additional taxes are put in place for tobacco products to further discourage usage, and suggest that more funding is allocated to smoking cessation programs.

Other strategies outlined in the policy statement include screening and lifestyle changes for diabetes and cholesterol prevention, as well as polypill administration for the prevention of hypertension.

"What we spend on cardiovascular disease is not sustainable. But we can afford to prevent it. Ultimately, we can't afford not to," Weintraub commented.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Piriya Mahendra

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