The Global Heart Disease Epidemic: Stopping What We Started (Gen Ed 1053)





What are you willing to do for the health of others?


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Richard Lee

Heart diseases have killed occasional humans since ancient times, but only in the past century have heart diseases become epidemic throughout the world. In fact, the first description of a heart attack in a human was not until 1912. In the current century, heart diseases will be the leading global cause of death, and the majority of those heart disease deaths will actually occur in the developing world. The epidemic of heart disease has been driven by many social, economic and technological events. Some of these events have been dramatically detrimental to human health, such as the accidental invention of the American cigarette by a slave in North Carolina in the 19th Century—an invention that is projected to kill one billion people between 2000 and 2100. Other events, such as advances in public health and safety, have been beneficial by extending lifespan and preventing early death, but they have also allowed age-related heart diseases to explode. Technological advances have improved our economic productivity but also led to changes in our lifestyles that promote heart diseases. In this course, we will consider the complex relationship of health and society by examining the epidemic in common heart diseases. We will explore how major lifestyle factors such as tobacco, alcohol, exercise and diet affect health, and we will also consider how economics and politics powerfully influence health. We will also discuss the role of government and our obligations to each other, and to future generations.

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