If risk factors such as diabetes and obesity rise more than expected, the rates of heart disease and its resulting cost will be even higher, the article says. They further explain that the current rate of overweight and obese adolescents will likely result in more overweight and obese adults. In fact, the study goes as far as saying that the cardiovascular gains the U.S. has made as a population because of dramatic decreases in smoking rates threaten to be completely offset by the sharp rise in obesity.
Hospitals play an important role in helping educate cardiac patients, as they provide interventions, and can also follow up with education, Heidenreich says. "There is a big opportunity when patients are hospitalized and are leaving the hospital to educate them on better health behaviors."
Researchers are careful to point out that the study does not account for any future advances in treating heart disease, and assumes the current success rates in prevention. The AHA is using this study to further underscore its calls for aggressive heart disease prevention, as well as starting education campaigns earlier. Modest improvements earlier in life are more successful at preventing heart disease than more dramatic improvements later in life.
Dr. Simon Dixon, MBChB , FACC, Chair of the Department of Cardiovasuclar Medicine at Beaumont Hospitals in Michigan, sees this study as alarming and very important for health systems. "This will be a front burner issue for us and other health systems around the country," Dixon says. "The epidemic of obesity is placing an incredibly huge burden on our system. It needs to be addressed with more effective and widespread strategies."