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The Long Road to Nowhere

Where Are We Going?

 
The rise of these elite, specialized, world-class centers – with an ever-increasing need for them – is a sign of how the system has failed us.
 
The fact that we need more cancer centers, heart centers and stroke centers is simply a sign that there are more people requiring them. People are becoming sicker and it is not just a marker of increased population density.  We are seeing rises in heart disease, Diabetes, Obesity, Cancers, Strokes, Autoimmunity, Hypertension.  The prevalence is outpacing the population growth.
In 2015:
  • Diabetes
    • 30.2 Million Americans have Diabetes – 7.2% of the US Population
    • 132,000 Children and Adolescents have Diabetes
    • Only ~ 5% of Diabetics are Type 1 – that means that 95% are Type 2 (lifestyle related)
  • Cardiovascular Disease
    • Accounts for 800,000 deaths annually in the US – 1 out of every 3 deaths
    • 425,000 of these deaths are from heart disease
    • One person dies of CAD every 40 seconds
    • More than 90 million Americans carry the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease
    • Stroke accounts for 1 out of every 20 deaths in the US
      • Statistics from the American College of Cardiology
  • Metabolic Disease
    • Estimated 37.7% of American adults are Obese
    • Almost 70% of Americans are overweight or obese
    • Estimated 85 million Americans have elevated blood pressure (34%)

These numbers are staggering.  Just consider the percentages of Americans that are affected by these conditions.  It is not simply raw numbers based on a large population sample.  There is a reason that a single metropolitan city may have 6 heart centers, 4 cancer centers and 3 stroke centers.  They are needed just to be able to handle the patient load.

 

 

Some may propose the argument that this is only because life expectancy is now significantly higher than it used to be in the early 1900’s.  I would agree that that might have accounted for the rise in heart disease, stroke and cancer seen in the 1950’s and 1960’s and their higher mortalities due to the lack of our modern technology available today.  However, the average person developing heart disease in the mid-20th century was approaching 60.  Stroke affected people between 60-70.  Today there are tens of thousands of individuals in their 30’s and 40’s suffering heart attacks (even with a decrease in the prevalence of smoking – remember Joe Camel and everyone smoking in the movies and TV shows), Strokes occurring in those in their 40’s and 50’s.  Cancers developing in younger individuals, including malignancies that have been relatively uncommon now being seen more frequently.  Type 2 Diabetes being diagnosed in teenagers and young adults.

 

We are becoming sicker and in need of these specialized centers.  Thank goodness that they exist and are there to evaluate and treat those individuals suffering with these life-threatening conditions.  Their services are much needed.  Each one of us may one day need to be provided services at one of them.  Unfortunately, the reason that they are thriving is only because of a market-driven need.  Hospitals build these centers, obtain these certifications and fund these services because there is money to be made.

 

Our system has failed us – everything from agriculture to pharmaceutical to dietary recommendations from federal agencies; from the recommendations provided to us from health magazines and guidance given to us by our medical doctors, who were only following the recommendations given them by what was thought to be the most up-to-date infallible science of the day. The likes of Ancel Keys, PhD leaving us with his legacy – The Diet-Heart Hypothesis – and the low-fat food craze that followed, only resulting in a more robust (aka obese), diabetic, hypertensive, heart-disease-ridden population that has followed.  It will take decades to un-do the damage that has been done.  It may not even be possible to turn this train around.

 

You, however, the individual, have it within your power to make a difference.  You can impact your own future, the future of your children, your relatives, your co-workers, and your friends.  Demand better from your grocery store, local restaurants, convenience stores, etc.  You have more power to effect a change than you may realize.  Share this message. Empower others.  Be the seed that changes the path from the way things were to the way they will be.  Create a better future so that the late 1900’s will one day be viewed as a dark day in the history of health in America.

 

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