Next up in this week’s EMS news, let’s take a look at a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on preventable death in the United States. According to the report, 900,000 Americans, almost a million, die from five preventable causes of death. This represents up to 40% of the deaths annually.

5 Leading Preventable Causes of Death

CDC-logoWe can probably tick off the five leading causes of death on our own without the help of the report, right? They are:

  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • COPD
  • stroke
  • accidental injury

The study called premature deaths as any that occurred before age 80 and looked at stats from 2008 to 2010. Researchers compared the rates in the healthiest states with the lowest premature death rates, to those states with the highest premature death rates. The thought process was that if all states were able to achieve the rates seen in the healthiest states then many of the deaths could be prevented and lives extended.

Save Lives – Prevent Premature Deaths

How much of an improvement could be seen? The specific numbers for preventable deaths saved, sorted by disease, are as follows: 34% from heart disease, 21% from preventable cancer, 39% from COPD, 33% from stroke, 39% from preventable injuries. All of these conditions have some modifiable risk factors that can be adjusted to improve a person’s chances of avoiding or surviving the incident or illness.

We all know what that list of risk factors are. The list includes tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical activity, untreated hypertension and diabetes and quite a few more. For unintentional injury, seatbelt use leads the pack with motorcycle helmet use, drug and alcohol abuse coming up behind.

States Can Improve Community Health

The report’s authors at the CDC hope that states with poorer performance will be encouraged to work to improve prevention efforts in ways that healthier states do. This could be done in a variety of ways including with public service and information campaigns.

We can do our part as healthcare professionals, too. Pick one or more of the modifiable risk factors and start talking to patients and people in your community about this. I like to ask people about seatbelt use since I have an EMS background as a paramedic. Sometimes I can dispel myths and preconceived notions about seatbelt use. Find your talking point and use it in your own practice.

You can even carry information and pamphlets you can hand out to patients and family members to help them remember the message. All these reminders help I assure you. Let’s see what we can do to encourage healthier behaviors in your area.

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Followup on the links to this news item and all the other articles and resources in this week’s episode show notes – Liquid Nicotine Poisonings for EMS Providers and Episode 385.

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