Jan 14, 2020

America's heart disease epidemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are increasingly dying of heart disease and strokes as they hit middle age — and the trend is happening across the country, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of mortality rates.

Why it matters: It suggests "that the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease are universal and difficult to address," the Journal found.

  • While the South has traditionally seen higher rates of deaths from cardiovascular disease, the spike is occurring in some of the healthiest places in the country — even outdoorsy Colorado.
  • Three metro areas in the state saw their cardiovascular death rates spike 25% from 2010–11 to 2015–16 despite "robust access to exercise and health care."
  • "Like much of America, the region is undergoing changes that foster more stress and sedentary lifestyles."

By the numbers: 18% of American kids and roughly 40% of adults are now obese, according to CDC data released last year.

  • More obese children means there will be more adults with chronic conditions like diabetes — which can’t be cured, only managed — and these diseases increase the risk of further complications, per Axios' Sam Baker.

The bottom line, via Axios' Caitlin Owens: Our health care system incentivizes caring for sick people, not keeping people healthy.

Go deeper: The urban-rural health divide is costing lives

Go deeper

Americans are visiting primary care doctors less often

Adults in the U.S. are visiting primary care doctors less often, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which could foreshadow worse health outcomes and higher costs.

By the numbers: The study, which focused on adults enrolled with a large commercial insurer, found that, between 2008 and 2016, visits to primary care physicians declined by 24.2%, and nearly half of adults didn't visit one in any given year by the end of the time frame.

Go deeperArrowFeb 4, 2020 - Health

WHO warns of 13 emerging health threats including possible pandemics

Photo: Probst/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Government leaders need to implement a "decade of change" and invest more in the key health priorities and systems to prevent global health threats over the next decade, the World Health Organization warned last week.

What's new: Climate change, infectious diseases and epidemic threats, socioeconomic inequalities, and conflicts are some of the 13 urgent challenges WHO says will imperil global health — but addressing them is "within reach" if action is taken now.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020

WHO: The coronavirus outbreak is not yet a global emergency

Photo: Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The deadly coronavirus has not yet sufficiently spread internationally to designate the outbreak as a global health emergency, the World Health Organization announced Thursday.

Why it matters: Some say the lack of a declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) could lessen international focus and funding needed to address a potential threat, but others worry such a declaration could limit the travel and trade important to many people's livelihoods.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 24, 2020 - Health