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Prevention Institute

Prevention Institute alert: Sept. 24, 2013

200,000 Heart Disease Deaths Can Be Prevented. What Are We Waiting For?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study a couple of weeks ago that estimated that about 200,000 preventable deaths from cardiovascular disease occur every year in the U.S. It’s a sobering number and the study got quite a bit of attention.

In his Huffington Post blog yesterday, PI’s Larry Cohen noted that health begins in the neighborhood and that it’s critical to work for policies that improve the conditions in all of our communities. At a time when there is pushback in some quarters against policy being part of a comprehensive approach, the blog emphasizes just how much is at stake—people’s lives and the misery of illness for individuals and their families and friends (as well as unnecessary costs). We must employ everything we know about the best, most effective practices in prevention and not allow others to take policy off the table.

We've known for a long time that the biggest factors influencing our health are the environments that shape our communities. Reducing preventable deaths, as well as illness and injuries, requires a comprehensive approach aimed at changing our communities and policies, not just modifying individual behaviors...

We reduced smoking, cut injuries and deaths from car crashes, and drastically lowered lead poisoning when we pursued policies and passed legislation that regulated industries and business and transformed conditions and environments, instead of simply telling individuals to change their behavior.

We need to keep the focus squarely on community environments and the policy changes that can help improve them. Across the country, lots of communities are doing that, finding exciting new ways to make a difference. They’re putting farmer’s markets on wheels and bringing them to underserved neighborhoods. They’re starting walking clubs for seniors and organizing soda-free summer campaigns for kids. Preventable deaths can be prevented. It takes a commitment to change.

Preventable Deaths Cry Out For Action -- And Better Coverage From the Media

PI’s Rob Waters, in an column in Forbes, wrote about some of the ways that media coverage of the CDC's study missed the mark, creating the impression that poor health is a lifestyle choice rather than a symptom of inequitable conditions in our communities.

Identifying Local Solutions to Reduce Inequities in Health and Safety

Check out this report, prepared for the Institute of Medicine's Roundtable on Health Disparities. It identifies policy solutions at the community, regional and state level to reduce inequities in health and safety. Download here.

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