Time Deficits and Silent Killers
| May 13, 2015
We’ve all heard hypertension called “the silent killer”: it’s largely asymptomatic but increases the risk of serious and sometimes fatal conditions such as heart attack and stroke. Making lifestyle changes can significantly lower our blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, but all too often we find ourselves in a time crunch where our health takes a backseat to other obligations.
Like a lot of women, I’m acting as the Chief Medical Officer of my family – scheduling doctor’s appointments, making treatment decisions, preparing healthful meals. This often leaves us with a time deficit for dealing with our own health. According to a recent survey by the Center for Talent Innovation sponsored by Kantar Health, nearly two-thirds of women say they know what they need to do to stay healthy but lack the time to do so.
Consider hypertension again. According to Kantar Health’s Epi Database, 35 percent of U.S. women have high blood pressure (vs. 34 percent of men). However, according to our recent survey, only 24 percent of women are actively taking steps to prevent heart disease (vs. 29 percent of men). The majority of these women are making lifestyle changes – eating low-fat or low-sodium diets, exercising regularly and managing their stress better. But less than half of women are actively trying to lower their blood pressure, a key component of avoiding hypertension.
Maybe the new trend of wearable devices will help move our own health higher on the priority list. After all, having something attached to us constantly monitoring our heart rate, blood pressure, physical activity, calorie counts, sleep quality and many, many other things makes it more difficult for us to forget what we should be doing for ourselves. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recently released a study that showed health apps, text-message reminders and other digital technologies significantly reduced heart attacks, strokes and other types of heart disease. What a great incentive to jump on the connected-health trend.
But it goes further than that. I’ve heard my colleague Brian Mondry talk about the next step in wearables: uploading the data to the cloud so that it’s shareable with people who can hold us accountable. So while I’m making sure my family is doing what they should to stay healthy, they can also remind me I need to take care of myself. I’m not sure how I feel about my son reminding me to make more of an effort to get to my 10,000 steps daily.
In the meantime, some in the industry are taking steps to relieve the time deficit family CMOs are feeling. Healthcare providers are starting to offer evening hours or telemedicine; and of course more and more health-tracking apps and devices are being developed every day. Making a few small changes and raising a little more awareness among all stakeholders can make huge differences in long-term health.
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