UR Researcher Addresses American Heart Association Members

December 14, 1999

Trends in the United States, including increases in the rate of obesity and diabetes, threaten a successful 30-year decline in cardiovascular disease, cautioned Thomas A. Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., during a recent American Heart Association meeting.

Pearson, who is the Albert D. Kaiser Professor and chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, delivered the 1999 Lewis A. Conner Memorial Lecture at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in Atlanta last month.

There is evidence that the reduction in cardiovascular disease that we have grown used to may be ending, with some diseases, such as stroke, actually increasing in some communities, Pearson said.

"Although we must continue to work to further decrease mortality rates related to cardiovascular disease, it is necessary to shift some of our focus to areas of concern that will surely have an impact on the rate of heart disease in the new millennium," he said.

Among factors expected to influence the fight against cardiovascular disease are a slowdown in the decline of mortality, especially among women, minorities and members of poor and rural populations; smoking, with one in four Americans smoking cigarettes; and a stagnant level of physical activity, an increase of 188 calories consumed per person per day and an absolute epidemic of obesity - all of which are trends predictive of future problems in cardiovascular disease prevention.

Pearson urged health care professionals to find ways to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease, and called for a continuation of basic, clinical and population-based research into its causes. But most of all, "we need to put into practice all that we have learned," he said.

The Lewis A. Conner Memorial Lecture is presented annually at the opening of the AHA Scientific Sessions by a distinguished scholar, researcher or national leader in the health field. The lecture honors the memory of Dr. Conner, one of the founders of the American Heart Association and its president in 1924.

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