The ability to be able to control one’s own transportation is, to many, a sign of true independence. Remember when you first passed your driver’s test and received your license? The world was at your mercy! At that time, with parental permission you could get just about anywhere, without relying on anyone else.
Unfortunately, as we age we become more vulnerable to at-fault traffic accidents. Previously, driving privileges were often revoked with the onset of age-related restrictions such as vision impairments and prolonged reaction times. Now, there are additional resources and programs to help keep people behind the wheel longer and more safely.
A program called DriveSafe is available through AARP and AAA. DriveSafe is a promising computer-based training program that reduces the risk of at-fault accidents in older drivers. It accomplishes this by expanding what is called the Useful Field of View (the effective arena of visual information able to be continuously processed by the driver, which is dependent on the brain’s ability to rapidly process visual spatial input). DriveSafe uses a computer-based visual processing program to train the brain to more efficiently cope with these driving demands.
While driving is a key part of independence, it is important to do so cautiously. If you want to stay behind the wheel longer, take advantage of available resources that will keep you and those around you safe.
In the United States, nearly 36 million people have uncontrolled blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Since this information is common knowledge to medical professionals, it may come as a shock that almost half of the people in the United States have uncontrolled high blood pressure. Also called hypertension, it is responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths a day and has a financial toll of $131 billion annually in the form of direct healthcare costs.
Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claims that patients with high blood pressure are either not receiving a correct combination or dosage of medication or they are not taking their medication as it is prescribed. Another very significant problem is that many physicians are not warning patients who have multiple prior elevated blood pressure readings that treatment is required. Dr. Frieden suggests the instigation of an alert system to bring such a history to the doctor’s attention.
According to a survey taken by the CDC between 2003 and 2010, 14 million of those persons with high blood pressure were not aware of their condition, and 22 million either opted not to take medication or were on inadequate treatment (meaning that the medication had not brought their blood pressure into the normal range).
Risk factors for high blood pressure include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and chronic illnesses (diabetes, kidney disease and high cholesterol). Many of these risk factors can be improved with an active lifestyle and healthy diet. Correctly treating high blood pressure can decrease the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions. So, talk with your doctor about your blood pressure and please do what is required to prevent hypertension.
With obesity on the rise nationwide, it is no surprise that the number of obesity-related conditions is also increasing. Unfortunately, the majority of these conditions are potent risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Diabetes is the most well-known such condition and affects all age groups.
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that analyzed information from 3,383 adolescents suggests that the percentage of U.S. teens with diabetes has been on the rise during the last decade. Between 1999 and 2008 that percentage jumped from 9 percent to 23 percent, highlighting the significant burden that these teens carry in terms of enhanced cardiovascular risk.
This observation underscores the importance of emphasizing an active and healthy lifestyle in our youth because even at a young age they may be setting themselves up for cardiac illnesses in the future.