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Preparing for a Big Increase in Cardiovascular Disease

Heart-attack survivor Shane Mandel says more research can help other folks avoid what he's gone through. (American Heart Assn./YouTube)
Heart-attack survivor Shane Mandel says more research can help other folks avoid what he's gone through. (American Heart Assn./YouTube)
February 15, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – By 2035, nearly half of all Americans will have cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. In a new projection released on Valentine's Day, the group says it expects broken hearts to cost the nation and its medical system a trillion dollars a year at that point.

Heart-attack survivor Shane Mandel of Suffolk says too many folks are likely to go through something he knows firsthand. A year-and-a-half ago, he went to the emergency room with chest pain and heartburn. The doctor there asked him a question.

"'So, when did you have your heart attack?'" he said. "And I looked up at him and I said, 'What are you talking about? I've never had a heart attack.' But he said, 'No, you've had a heart attack in the last 10 days.' And at that point, the world just totally changed."

Mandel and the Heart Association say the U.S. needs to ramp up research and encourage a culture of healthy living, both of which will help the nation prepare.

American Heart Association President Steven Houser says Congress also can play a role, keeping the current protections in the Affordable Care Act in place so people with pre-existing conditions don't lose their health insurance.

"In my view, we cannot afford to be complacent about these projections," he stressed. "If they become a reality, a serious health and economic crisis is on our horizon."

Mandel says the Heart Association wants to see increased funding for heart-related research through the National Institutes of Health.

"I'm alive today because of research," added Mandel. "Continuing to fund research is a crucial step in getting people like me back to their lives, and preventing the disease from ever becoming part of another person's life."

According to the American Heart Association, the death rate from cardiovascular disease rose in 2015 and 2016, reversing steady declines dating back to 1969.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA