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Hidden Epidemic: Heart Disease in America
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Watching: The Hidden Epidemic - Heart Disease In America

Chapter 10: The Challenge Ahead [4:38]

The fundamental sources of heart disease are now known, but for most, behavior change is the real solution. Will we?

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Transcript: Chapter 10 - The Challenge Ahead

The fundamental sources of heart disease are now known, but for most, behavior change is the real solution. Will we?

NARRATOR: Framingham today is a very different community than it was in 1948. Most of he small businesses are gone, replaced by chain stores along Route-9, the highway that runs outside of town. But the Framingham Heart Study remains, approaching six decades of research. It's the longest running population study of heart disease in the world.

DR. STEVE NISSEN: Framingham was just an extraordinary study. And now is such a core of our knowledge base about heart disease. To find out the relationship between health habits and the incidents of heart disease in a single town of that size in Massachusetts was a brilliant strategy that has yielded so much insight into the disease.

NARRATOR: The study has release landmark finding on smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and many other health concerns. Still, with all the discoveries that have come from Framingham, one of the most important finding is a very simple reality that many people still don't understand.

DR. STEVE NISSEN: Coronary heart disease is largely preventable. At least 80% of the disease that we see is due to identifiable risk factors—high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes. Those are, in fact, preventable diseases. In the year 1900, coronary heart disease was not even in the top ten causes of death. And so, 100 years of lifestyle and dietary indiscretion have turned this disease into the number one killer. I think we have a real chance if we can get people to adopt healthier lifestyles, to turn back the clock to a point when this disease wasn't nearly as important.

NARRATOR: It turns out that there were reasons for Philip Epstein's mysterious death. His father started having problems with his heart when he was only 38 years old. When he was 41 he was hospitalized for major heart surgery.

ADELE ACK: And on the last day, when he was supposed to come home, he got up in the morning, was shaving, and had a blood clot, and it killed him.

NARRATOR: Philip's uncle was also a victim of heart disease.

ADELE ACK: My brother died when he was 57. He had a heart attack on a golf course on a Fourth of July weekend. Hadn't been sick at all.

NARRATOR: With this family history and a new baby, Ami encouraged Philip to get a physical. It was the day after Arielle was born.

AMI KANN: I called the doctor, and, and I—I got more information about, you know, the results of his physical.

NARRATOR: Philip's cholesterol was over 300. His doctor prescribed medication. Philip had only taken for a couple of days when he died.

ADELE ACK: I feel that it's such a tragedy, because I just—I always think back to Philip not knowing his father, and this baby'll never know her father.

JUSTIN EPSTEIN: My dad was great. That's all I can say. All I can say is my dad was great. No one could—no one could replace him.

AMI KANN: I lost my best friend, so I'm gonna just miss being with him. There's a big gap in my life. My concern is my memories are fading, that I—that I didn't know him long enough.

END CREDITS

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