By the President of the United States of America
More than 40 million Americans suffer from some form of heart or blood vessel disease. During 1979, these diseases and their complications will claim more than 980,000 lives and partially or completely disable several million other Americans. The total economic cost in disability payments, medical expenses and lost wages and productivity will exceed $50 billion.
The picture would be darker had not the Nation launched a concerted effort against cardiovascular diseases more than thirty years ago. Since 1948, this effort has resulted in greatly increased support for cardiovascular research; for training thousands of new research workers and clinicians; for health education and information programs; and for community service programs concerned with preventing, diagnosing, and relieving cardiovascular disorders. Over this period, we have learned more about the cardiovascular system and its diseases than during all previous medical history. The application of this knowledge has enabled us to decrease the mortality rate for all cardiovascular diseases combined by 30 percent.
Our successes in combatting cardiovascular diseases have accelerated since 1968. I am particularly gratified that the mortality rate of the two major killers among this family of diseases-coronary heart disease and stroke has decreased nearly 20 and 25 percent respectively.
If present trends continue during 1979, there will be at least 170,000 fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease in the U.S. than if the mortality rates of ten years ago still prevailed.
Two organizations have been in the forefront of the national effort against the cardiovascular diseases: the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute-a Federal agency-and the American Heart Association, supported by private contributions. But it has been a cooperative effort involving a great many agencies and groups-Federal and private, national and local. Our continued success must rest, as always, on the support and participation of the American people.
Recognizing the need for all Americans to help in the battle against cardiovascular disease, the Congress, by joint resolution approved December 30, 1963 (77 Stat. 843; 26 U.S.C. 169b)1 has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating February as American Heart Month.