FEBRUARY 11, 1947
NEW YORK, Monday—I have been asked to draw attention to the fact that this is National Heart Week, during which the American Heart Association is putting on an extensive educational campaign in the hope of raising funds for their work. The New York campaign treasurer is Robert H. Craft, Guaranty Trust Company, 140 Broadway, New York City. Heart disease is one of the chief ailments causing casualties among both adults and children, and yet at the present time the amount of money put into research in this particular field is shockingly small.
The long fight put up against tuberculosis has brought down the deaths from that disease by 79 percent. Diphtheria is down about 98 percent; pneumonia and influenza, because of the new drugs discovered, 69 percent. Today, per hundred-thousand, there are 41 deaths from tuberculosis, 62 from pneumonia and influenza, 72 from accidents, 129 from cancer, and 315 from heart disease.
It looks as though our modern way of living tends to put greater strain upon the heart. Certainly, however, we should be putting more money into research and also into the care of patients.
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Cancer is being brought increasingly to public attention, and efforts are being made to provide not only adequate research but adequate education, which is the most important part of the fight against cancer. If people will recognize symptoms soon enough, the chance of a cure is so much greater.
We are becoming aware too of the great value of mental hygiene. Though I smiled a little the other day when someone told me that a psychiatrist was going to make a study primarily of mental disturbances arising in children under a year old, I think perhaps there is more wisdom in this than we realize. Many a child's nervous system must be seriously affected in infancy by parents or nurses who have no appreciation of the effect of some careless act. For instance, I have seen people slap babies on the face with little regard for the fact that the mechanism of the ear is particularly sensitive and that an adult's hand is heavier than one realizes.
One great difficulty about medical advances seems to be that education in regard to them must be assimilated by the grownups of a generation before the advances can be useful to children. Think how long it took us to induce people to innoculate for diphtheria! But since the education of parents has been accomplished, look how the percentage of diphtheria deaths has dropped. I remember that, when I was a child, there was practically no hope for anyone who contracted diphtheria!
The fight against disease is a long hard one, and a test of the intelligence of the average man and woman.