Risks - The Health Network
Does UK health education help?
Heart foundations and other agencies have played a major role in encouraging a healthier life through health education. These organizations are promoting the association of doctors and medical scientists with the community, and are dedicated to the control and elimination of the common chronic diseases in our society.
The close contact of lay people with doctors in this way has been a major factor in breaking down the barriers between the medical profession and the public. As a result doctors have also become involved in the prevention of disease. The following case history demonstrates one way in which this can be done.
Trevor. is a successful insurance salesman, aged fifty-one. Up to five years ago he led a completely sedentary life and was about 50 lb (23 kg) above his ideal weight. He was a big eater although sparing about drink. His blood fats were raised and abnormal, and his blood pressure was also persistently raised. He smoked heavily.
He saw a doctor about five years ago because of chronic low-back pain. A diagnosis of arthritis and disc trouble was made. He also complained of frequent fatigue, particularly after his day's work, and he complained of occasional boredom bordering on depression.
Trevor had no evidence of heart trouble at the time but he was obviously at very high risk for heart disease. Important life-style changes were proposed by his doctor. These included regular and active exercise, simple dietary changes and complete prohibition of smoking. He responded to this programme in a most enthusiastic and diligent manner.
He is now an entirely different person. He has lost 40 lb (18 kg) and has done so painlessly through his physical exercise programme and diet. He stopped smoking immediately but continues to take an occasional drink. The back trouble has long since vanished thanks to physical fitness and to weight control. His blood pressure and blood fats are normal. He is now at low risk for coronary disease and stroke, and no longer complains of fatigue or boredom. He spent three weeks last summer in France on a cycling vacation with his family.
He described the holiday as the best he has ever had. The transition from a paunchy and inactive middle age to dynamic and youthful vigor is as much a source of surprise to his friends as it is a source of satisfaction to himself and his family.
Trevor's case history above shows how further trouble was prevented. This primary prevention, as it is commonly called, aims to eliminate risk factors (such as smoking), encourage the taking of exercise and the control of harmful conditions such as high blood pressure. This is the most crucial part of long-term prevention and healthy living.
In Healthnet's opinion, every penny spent on public education by a heart foundation is, in terms of health, happiness and productivity, worth thousands more than the vast sums spent on hospital services. Every one of us can put into practice this knowledge about the prevention of heart disease.
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