"It is a reality that will take some more time to be fully realized," Yancy noted. "But it is assuredly coming down the road."
That said, he admits that the status quo is not entirely rosy, given that U.S. hospitals now see roughly 500,000 new heart failure patients come through their doors each year.
The key to lowering that number: helping the public connect the dots between an unhealthy lifestyle and harm to the heart.
"For many people, heart failure is a fuzzy disease," Yancy noted. "People commonly think about their risk for a dramatic event, like a heart attack. But heart failure needs to be on everyone's consciousness because it develops quietly over time, as the heart gets weighed down by burdens such as obesity, diabetes and smoking," he explained.
"So, it's important to galvanize the public so that everyone knows that heart failure can be treated, but also prevented," Yancy said. "Because even though we can't cure it, we do know how to handle it. So, we can't approach it as if it's an inevitability. Because it's not."
For more on a heart-healthy lifestyle, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiovascular medicine and science, director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, and co-director, University of California, Los Angeles Preventive Cardiology Program, David Geffen School of Medicine; Clyde Yancy, M.D., past president, American Heart Association, and chief, cardiology, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
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