Experts warn: the disease that's the number one killer of Texans

Ash Jurberg

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While the focus of the last eighteen months has been on the pandemic and the measures to protect against catching the virus, it is essential not to forget the disease that kills more Texans than any other.

And that is heart disease.

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) shows that tragically 45,346 Texans died from heart disease in 2017. While the coronavirus was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, it was well behind heart disease. In addition, the financial burden of heart disease is substantial; hospitalization charges related to heart disease and stroke reached $23 billion in 2016 and have risen since.

Across the United States, more than 80 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease. To make things worse, if you have cardiovascular disease, you are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19, including having to go to the hospital.

Although the direct toll of COVID-19 has been devastating, many of us in the medical community have also worried about the indirect toll of the pandemic on patients with other medical conditions, like cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Rishi K. Wadhera, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School

According to Texas Health and Human Services, the biggest causes of heart disease are:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Heavy drinking

Advice to reduce the chance of heart disease

  • Eat healthy food. This includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as food that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake.

More information can be found on the Texas Health and Human Services website.

Our messages for preventing heart disease and stroke and their risk factors have never been more important. Watch your diet, get up and move more, get the sleep your body needs and please see your doctor to make sure you’re managing any chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. We’ll need to watch and address these trends as the full ramifications are yet to come.” Lloyd-Jones, epidemiologist and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago

While drug advancements for cardiovascular disease have been slow over the last 20 years, some promising news is on the horizon, thanks to some intelligent Texan minds. A research team at Texas A&M has developed a 3-D bio-printed blood vessel. It is hoped that this model will give experts a better understanding of what happens to a vessel when diagnosed with heart disease and perhaps in the future even be used as heart implants.

"If a person has any high blood pressure or clotting in a clogged vessel then we can re-engineer these vessels and implant them in the patient and act as a new vessel for the person."Akhilesh Gaharwar, associate professor, Texas A&M Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Let's hope the team at Texas A&M has success with this project and helps decrease deaths from heart disease.

In addition, the Public Health Strategies for Addressing Heart Disease and Stroke in Texas (TXPHS) "provides a set of goals, objectives, and strategies for partners across the state to implement in an effort to reduce morbidity and mortality related to heart disease and stroke in Texas."

Heart disease shouldn't be forgotten, while the focus has been on managing the current pandemic.

Readers, are you taking the necessary steps to reduce the chance you are affected by heart disease?

Please share any other tips or advice you have in the comments below.

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