My father passed away at the age of 51 on June 12, 2012, from a heart attack. Little did we know, he was also suffering from diabetes. Every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack.
Research has demonstrated a significant increase in the number of men older than the age of 40 who are obese, which was a contributing factor in my father’s death. Currently in the United States, 62 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 60 are classified as obese. Men are 71 percent less likely than women to seek medical or nutritional help for the issues of overweight or obesity. Obesity can result in an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. My father unfortunately suffered from two of these risk factors. A survey taken among men in this age group indicates that there is little understanding of what constitutes obesity, the negative health effects of obesity, and the ways to reduce weight and restore health. A similar survey among PCPs and internists indicated that although there is a concern for and awareness of the problem, there is little understanding of the resources that are available to help men lose weight. Therefore, there is reluctance on the part of practitioners to discuss this subject with overweight patients.
The consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and food also has a huge impact on life expectancy. The United States has experienced an explosion in obesity rates in the past 20 years. Twenty-eight percent of all men in the United States are obese compared with 2 percent of men in Japan. My father was an avid smoker of cigarettes. His smoking was a contributing factor to his heart disease, and it was only made worse by his obesity.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that the life-threatening conditions remain the top two killers of Americans annually. Heart disease is the leading cause of death, while stroke holds fourth place as a leading cause of death. The news comes from the annual Disease and Stroke Statistical Update, produced by the AHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that one American dies every 40 seconds from stroke and heart disease.
The AHA says the primary contributors to stroke and heart and vascular disease are smoking, high cholesterol levels, sedentary lifestyles, poor diet choices, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Given such information, experts at the AHA and physicians say it’s critical for people to be aware of these contributing risk factors and make the lifestyle changes needed to prevent these life-threatening conditions.
February is American Heart Month. There is truly no better time to make some important changes that could keep your daughter from ever having to say, “my father passed away from a heart attack.”