Heart Problems Continue to Plague Hospitals

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There can be little doubt that America’s most expensive, most prevalent, and most life-threatening health problems have to do with the most vital organ in the human body — the heart. The heart pumps your blood and thus it helps distribute the nutrients and oxygen your body needs in order to keep your blood vessels free and clear. Unfortunately, for many millions of adults who have atherosclerosis — otherwise known as hardening of the arteries — their hearts don’t work at an optimal, healthy level the way they should.

 A report by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which came out a week ago, stated that among all the health complaints contributing to nearly $800 billion in the country’s hospital costs, clogged arteries tops the list. Treating atherosclerosis runs hospitals nearly $45 billion each year. The report was released in wake of the reality of health care costs — they are escalating more than twice as fast as inflation and putting strains on the government and private companies offering employees health insurance.

 There are now more than 46 million Americans without any form of medical insurance and they are the ones who tend to wait until their health has deteriorated before they visit a hospital. Emergency rooms are the costliest places to seek treatment — and costs to treat uninsured patients topped off at about $36 billion this year. In any event, we don’t need to go so deeply into the financial aspects because that is less of a concern to people as is staying healthy.

 Staying healthy begins with the circulatory system, which is governed by your heart. Among the top five most expensive conditions treated at hospitals, heart attacks and congestive heart failure were included. Many times, surgery is performed in the hospital and often the treatment is “angioplasty,” in which a catheter is pushed through a blood vessel until it reaches a clogged artery. “Stenting” follows, where a wire tube is inserted in order to keep the artery clear.

 Everybody can take steps, mind you, to ensure that they don’t end up feeding into the cost of $45 billion that goes toward health care. You have to prevent it knowing there won’t be any symptoms — atherosclerosis is a silent disease that occurs gradually. The one serious cause of this is having high cholesterol, as the molecules stick and clump together in your arteries.

 Lowering LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels is of paramount importance. High blood pressure is another contributor to this condition, as is smoking, being overweight, eating too few fruits and vegetables, leading an overly sedentary life, and being constantly stressed out.