According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming roughly 610,000 lives a year, meaning that it accounts one in every four deaths nationwide. However, researchers, scientists, and health professionals have recently announced a series of developments related to better research, new treatments, and futuristic technology that may soon lead to dramatic reductions in the impact of heart disease in the United States.
A better understanding of genetic and environmental factors that cause heart disease is one component of battling the epidemic. There have been a couple of encouraging news items on this front as of late. The first was a report by Science Daily of an affirmation of the long-suspected link between air pollution and increased heart disease risk published by the NYU Langone Medical Center. Senior study investigator and health epidemiologist Richard B. Hayes suggested that the evidence from the study should be used by policymakers to enforce stricter regulations on air pollution.
“We need to better inform policymakers about the types and sources of particulate pollution so they know where to focus regulations. It is especially important to continue monitoring health risks as national standards for air pollution are strengthened.”
In Washington D.C. at the American Heart Association’s “High Blood Pressure Conference,” a new blood test has been announced that will purportedly help identify heart disease risk in black teenagers by measuring changes in the T-cell status of obese teens. The leading researcher on the study, Dr. Carmen De Miguel from the University of Alabama, explained how an earlier diagnosis of high-risk individuals within this particularly vulnerable demographic for heart disease would be beneficial.
“Being able to predict an increased risk for adult heart disease would allow for preventive therapies and help changing exercise and diet habits to make the teen less prone to heart disease in adulthood.”
Another demographic group with an exceptionally high risk of heart disease that received good news this week were diabetics. According to Bloomberg, Jardiance, a new medicine sold by drug manufacturers Eli Lilly & Co. and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, has been shown to reduce the risk of “heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths by 14 percent in a study of 7,020 people with adult-onset diabetes and a high risk of heart problems.”
However, despite all the research and work to facilitate earlier diagnosis and to develop new innovations in drug treatment options to combat heart disease, a large number of Americans every year receive the diagnosis that their heart is simply too sick or weak to continue functioning, and a transplant is needed. According to the Gift of Life donor program, the average waiting period for a heart transplant is roughly four months, and many patients die before their name comes up on the list.
In recent months, numerous sources have reported on advances in the fields of 3D printing and Tissue Structure Information Modeling (TSIM) which have brought the concept of an artificial but fully functional, 3D-printed human heart closer to reality than ever.
With the continued efforts and resources being put towards identifying reducing risk factors, obtaining earlier diagnosis, developing better treatment options, and inventing new technology, perhaps heart disease will soon be less of an epidemic for the United States.
[Image Credit: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images News]