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National Heart Week

(21 February 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 8, 21 February 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Starting on Valentine’s Day and continuing until Feb. 21, we will observe National Heart Week in the United States. This is the period set aside by the National Heart Association to acquaint the public with heart disease and to raise funds for research in this field.

Heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, but, contrary to the popular belief, it takes its victims among the young as well as the old. Heart disease causes more deaths among children between the ages of 10 and 15 than any other disease. In this age range, it is usually rheumatic fever – a disease of poverty – which strikes down young victims.

After the age of 45, one out of every two deaths is caused by diseases of the heart and blood vessels. In fact, heart disease takes a greater toll than the five other leading causes of death combined – three times as many deaths as cancer; six times as many as accidents; seven times as many as pneumonia; ten times as many as tuberculosis.

During the last 50 years, great advances have been made by medical science in the understanding of and treatment of cardiac cases. Electrocardiographic methods, roentgenography and fluoroscopy have been developed as aids in diagnosis and treatment. Surgical techniques have been evolved for the relief of certain congenital malformations of the heart, such as that found in “blue babies.”

New drugs such as penicillin, streptomycin, heparin and dicumarol have been found to be great aids in clinical treatment of cardiac patients. Yet much remains to be learned by medical scientists. As yet, the caused of the three most important cardiovascular diseases – hypertension, arteriosclerosis and rheumatic fever – are unknown.

Much remains to be done by social scientists, too! Overwork and overworry are the twin evils, which aggravate cardiac conditions and shorten lives by 10, 15 or 20 years. Physicians, who have a fine understanding of the physical, emotional and social maladjustments of the cardiac cripple cannot tell him how to end overwork and overworry in this cut-throat capitalist society.

I think that the best way to observe National Heart Week is to re-dedicate one’s self to the cause of socialism. In a Socialist United States of America, the billions now spent on atomic bombs could be devoted to research into the causes and treatment of heart disease, as well as the many other diseases that disable human beings and drive them to early graves.

And in a Socialist United States, we could do away with overwork and overworry for our cardiac patients. The National Heart Week of today would be expanded to all 52 weeks of the socialist year. Under Socialism, we would put through the finest heart program of them all: “From each according to his abilities: to each according to his needs.”

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