SUPPORTING THE GOALS AND IDEALS OF AMERICAN HEART MONTH
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Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding to me on this important issue.
On December 30, 1963, Congress requested that the President issue an annual proclamation designating February as American Heart Month. House Concurrent Resolution 52, supporting the goals and ideals of American Heart Month, reaffirms the Federal Government's commitment to fighting heart disease, recognizes Americans struggling with this illness, and encourages Americans to take preventive measures to protect themselves from heart disease.
I want to recognize the sponsor of this resolution, Representative JUANITA MILLENDER-MCDONALD, and thank her for her leadership on this and other critical health issues.
Over 79 million, or one in three, American adults have cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and congenital cardiovascular defects.
The lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease for an individual aged 40 is two in three of men, and over one in two for women.
Cardiovascular disease was the underlying cause of death for well over a third of all the 2.4 million deaths in the United States in 2004. Cardiovascular disease accounts for more deaths than any other single cause of death in the United States. Nearly 2,400 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of one death each 36 seconds.
The estimated direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular disease in 2007 are $431.8 billion. Heart disease is a significant factor in driving up medical costs in the United States. About two-thirds of unexpected cardiac deaths occur without prior recognition of cardiac disease.
This is an important point to underscore, and it highlights the need for American Heart Month. Public education can help raise awareness, encourage preventive measures, discourage unhealthy behaviors and persuade more Americans to get regular medical exams. By doing so, we will be able to reduce the incidences of heart disease.
We can lower those numbers that I have just mentioned, but we can also improve and extend the lives of real people, our family members, friends and neighbors. That is what American Heart Month is all about.
We know the risk factors that lead to heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, obesity and diabetes.
Cigarette smoking results in a two- to threefold increased risk of dying from coronary heart disease.
We also know the way to manage risk and prevent heart disease: regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight; healthy eating habits; avoidance of tobacco, drugs and excessive alcohol; getting regular checkups to be screened for signs of heart disease risk.
American Heart Month is particularly important in getting the word out to those who are disproportionately affected by heart disease and who too often fail to receive the treatment they need. Women and minorities may have atypical symptoms when suffering a heart attack or angina, and if they are sent home undiagnosed, they are about twice as likely to die from these symptoms as those who are admitted.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country, claiming over 349,000 American women each year. Raising awareness and improving treatment and screening can save many lives.
Forty-two percent of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared with 24 percent of men. This may be because, on average, women are older than men when they have a heart attack. It also may be because heart disease is not typically diagnosed as or treated as aggressively as that in men.
Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, hypertension, and stroke, is the number one killer of women in the United States. Experts estimate that one in two will die of heart disease or stroke, compared with one in 25 of women who will die of breast cancer.
Existing heart disease is undiagnosed in half of women who have a first heart attack.
Management of chest pains differ by sex and race. Men are more likely than women to receive definitive diagnoses of angina as opposed to vague chest pain. Women and blacks typically receive fewer cardiovascular medications than men and whites.
Lack of studies on women limits usefulness of research on coronary heart disease. Although CHD causes more than 250,000 deaths in women each year, much of the research on CHD in the last 20 years has either excluded women or included very few women. As a result, many of the tests and therapies used to treat women for CHD are based on studies conducted predominantly in men and may not be as effective in women.
Again, I want to thank Representative Millender-McDonald for her leadership, and I urge all of my colleagues to support H. Con. Res. 52.
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