Heart disease is increasing at a troubling pace in the United States, with costs expected to double from $555 billion in 2016 to a whopping $1.1 trillion in 2035, a new American Heart Association report estimates.
“Our new projections indicate cardiovascular disease is on a course that could bankrupt our nation’s economy and health care system,” said AHA President Steven Houser. He’s also associate dean of research at Temple University in Philadelphia.
By 2035, 45% of the total U.S. population – about 131 million people – will have at least one health problem related to heart disease, the AHA report projected. Heart disease is spreading much more quickly than previously estimated, Houser said at a news conference.
The AHA’s previous projections underestimated the impact of American’s ongoing obesity epidemic on the nation’s heart health.
“The burden of cardiovascular disease is growing faster than our ability to combat it, and our new report indicates it could get much worse in the coming years,” Houser said.
Copies of the report will be distributed to policy makers in Congress as they contemplate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Houser said. “As this report shows, we have and will continue to have significant numbers of Americans with pre-existing cardiovascular disease conditions,” Houser added.
The major tool used by the U.S. health care system to combat cardiovascular disease is statin drugs. Obviously, that approach is not working.
Obesity is a major factor, so are all the other aspects of metabolic syndrome, especially insulin resistance and hypothyroidism. These factors are preventable with some simple lifestyle changes.
The AHA talks about prevention, but it’s just talk. There is no preventative health care in traditional medicine. The new standard of care for the A1c (a great test to detect pre-diabetes) is to consider ordering the test between ages 40-45 on obese patients. That’s 15-20 years too late.
I order the A1c as a part of my routine blood profile. The test is frequently elevated on patients in their late 20’s who are at ideal weight. You cannot wait until the outward signs of metabolic syndrome are obvious to test patients. Intervention must occur much sooner.
Too many PCPs just place their patients on statin drugs as soon as their total cholesterol tops 200. They seldom run a cardiac CRP to measure potential vascular inflammation, the true indicator of cardiac risk. On occasion, they will run the homocysteine, another risk factor but fail to recommend bioavailable vitamin B12 and folic acid to lower the homocysteine levels. I have even seen physicians refuse to run an L(p)a to determine if the high cholesterol is genetic when the lab recommends the test on the lab report. Of course, there are no drugs on the market to lower the L(p)a. Only a daily niacin flush or gingko leaf extract, both natural substances, have been proven to lower the L(p)a.
The Bottom Line:
Cardiovascular disease in this country will continue to rise at alarming rates until the U.S. healthcare system truly embraces preventative health care. Honestly, I think the system will have to collapse before such thoughts are entertained.