On May 19, 2011, the CDC identified 10 public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century. Hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars were saved due to these achievements and the CDC Director at the time, Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., proudly announced that Americans are living longer, healthier, and more productive lives than ever before thanks in part to these achievements. Accomplishments included vaccine-preventable diseases (shocking) including pneumococcal which prevented an estimated 211,000 serious pneumonia infections and 13,000 deaths. Other achievements included record low reported cases of Hepatitis A, B, chickenpox and a decline in deaths from heart disease and stroke, continuing a trend that began in the early 1900s for stroke and the 1960s for heart disease.
Bring on 2020, COVID-19 and bam, just like that, the progress in lowering heart disease death was erased. The increase in death rates from heart disease in 2020 represented about five years of lost progress among adults nationwide. Access to preventive health care was identified as leading to delays in detecting and treating heart disease. Although the CDC expected to see an increase, the magnitude of the increase was “striking.” Other pandemic-related factors such as decreases in physical activity, increases in smoking and alcohol use may have also contributed to the reversal. Sad, just sad.
You are in charge of your life again. You determine how your health care needs will be meet. You decide if you are going to sit on the couch or get up and move! You can “just say no” to that tobacco and maybe cut back on the liquid grapes. At the end of the day, you are the world to someone, a significant other, a child, a grandchild, so you decide. How are you going to live your life in a healthier way? Take the challenge, get off the couch, make healthy lifestyle choices, okay, football Sunday doesn’t count! Stay well and stay informed!