Risky Business: New Survey Suggests Many Americans Live Dangerously, Even When They Say They Aren't 'Risk Takers'

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 General News
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MORRISTOWN, N.J., Sept. 22 A new survey of men and womenage 40 and older in the United States reveals a significant gap betweenpeople's desire to avoid taking risks with their health, and the percentagewho knowingly skip critical health screenings. Overall, 60 percent indicatedthey weren't risk takers with their health. Yet, 25 percent of those whothink they play it safe admitted to skipping routine mammograms or prostatecancer screenings, with 30 percent skipping colonoscopies and other screeningsafter the age of 50.

When it comes to the nation's number one killer, cardiovascular disease(CVD), as many as 42 percent of those surveyed were determined to be atelevated CVD risk using a formula that is based in part on the Framingham RiskCalculator*. If this survey outcome were to be applied to the totalpopulations of men over 40 and women over 50 it could mean that as many as47.8 million people are at elevated CVD risk**. Among those at elevatedrisk, as many as one in five have not spoken to their physicians about thepreventive benefits of low-dose aspirin therapy.

"Knowing your cardiovascular risk and taking appropriate steps to lower itcan decrease the number of heart attacks and strokes suffered in this countryevery year," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, clinical associate professor of medicineand medical director of New York University's Women's Heart Program and authorof Dr. Nieca Goldberg's Complete Guide to Women's Health. "Patients need totalk to their doctor about proven simple prevention strategies, like takingdaily low-dose aspirin, diet and exercise. If more at-risk adults were on anaspirin regimen, along with improved diet and exercise the incidence of heartdisease in this country would be greatly reduced."

In fact, according to a report issued by the AHA and two other majorhealth organizations and published in recent issues of Circulation(i) andDiabetes Care, greater appropriate use of preventive measures that includeaspirin therapy, weight loss, cholesterol and blood pressure reduction, andsmoking cessation would reduce heart attacks by 36 percent over the next threedecades(ii). A report by the Partnership for Prevention also calculated that45,000 lives would be saved each year if more adults took a low-dose aspirinto prevent CV events(iii). In addition, the American Medical Association (AMA)passed policy in July to increase education among physicians on the importanceof appropriate aspirin counseling for the prevention of heart attacks andrecurrent stroke. Encouraging physicians to incorporate aspirin counselinginto patient care when appropriate may help reduce the prevalence of heartattack and recurrent stroke, said the AMA.

The new survey results were released today in conjunction with the WorldHeart Federation's World Heart Day 2008, a global advocacy campaign aimed atincreasing public awareness and promoting the use of preventive measures toreduce the incidence of CVD. World Heart Day 2008 will be observed onSunday, 28 September. This year's theme - "Know Your Risk" - focuses onimproving understanding of personal risk for cardiovascular disease, includinghypertension. As part of the campaign, heart health screening and otheractivities for the public are being planned in over 100 countries worldwide.

"On the occasion of World Heart Day, this survey shows there still is muchwork to be done when it comes to risk factor education, and encouragingbehaviors that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," said WesCetnarowski, MD, Senior Vice President of Global Research and Development atBayer Healthcare. "We hope this latest survey report -- as well as theongoing efforts of organizations such as the World Heart Federation, the AHA,the AMA, and other health organizations worldwide -- encourages and increasesdiscussion between physicians and appropriate patients regarding theimportance of preventive lifestyl

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