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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Alarming Trends

When my husband first started practicing cardiology here in Jonesboro 17 years ago, his patients were mostly in their 60's, 70's and 80's. Exactly the patient population cardiologists expected to see. But over those 17 years two alarming trends have occurred, one I know you read about (or maybe ignore?) and see on TV.

First, the age of his patients has gone steadily down. It has not been unusual lately for him to treat patients with their first heart attacks who are younger than he is - in their 40's, 30's and even 20's! No, these patients don't have some unusual problem. They smoke, don't exercise and are over weight. It's sad to think that middle age for a growing segment of America's population could mean 14 or 20. Think about it - if you have your first heart attack at 28, your life will be cut severely short unless you take steps to correct the problems.

Another alarming trend is that weight gain has gone steadily up. Make no mistake, these trends are closely related. Weight gain, especially around the waist, leads to heart disease as well as other diseases like diabetes. My husband sees patients every day who are overweight by 50 to 100 pounds or more.

We can talk about health care reform all we want but your good health is largely in your own hands. Please take your health and that of your children seriously. Don't wait until you have serious health problems. Start eating better today and get off the couch and get moving! Ditch the cigarettes and do something else with that money. You'll be glad you did.