Q: What health risks do Americans face and what are the leading causes of death?
A: Heart Disease and Cancer are far ahead of any of the top ten leading causes of death. Of course these progress with aging. When looking at ages 1-44, injury and violence represent the leading cause of death.
More than 180,000 people will die from injuries this year, that’s one person every three minutes. I will focus on this indicator and in future columns will address others.
Although we accept injuries as part of life, they are preventable. They don’t have to happen. Seatbelts are a huge life saver. I support state laws requiring their use. Everyone inside a car should strap on a seat belt. It is estimated that between 1975 and 2008, 255,000 lives have been saved due to seat belts.
Violence, another significant cause of injury and death, has been reduced through school-based violence prevention programs, cutting violent behavior among high school students by 29%. Domestic violence programs and counseling have had a major impact on reducing family violence.
Exercise programs have reduced falls with serious implication for hip fractures and disability by as much as one half.
Children are particularly prone to injury. Information is readily available on the Internet and other sources on how to safe-proof your home. For example, bleach and other chemicals that are common home products must be out of the reach of children and properly secured. Electric outlets and hot liquids pose serious risks to young ones.
Pool safety to prevent drowning, a leading cause of child death, requires attention.
There are 20,000 deaths a years and tens of thousands of disabling injuries due to vehicular accidents. Alcohol relates to many of these tragedies.
Good common sense is the first line of defense to prevent accidents and serious injury. Prevention is the key and is effective.
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