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Am J Med Sci. 1995 Dec;310 Suppl 1:S119-22.

From the discovery of risk factors for coronary artery disease to the application of preventive measures.

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American Health Foundation, New York, New York 10017, USA.


Hyperlipidemia and high blood pressure have clearly evolved as major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. High fat intake, obesity, and cigarette smoking have been shown to be root causes of such risk. Ecologic correlations and case-control studies have provided evidence that hyperlipidemia and obesity certainly have their beginnings during childhood, and that the onset of cigarette smoking at a young age escalates the risk for coronary artery disease. Thus, preventive measures will have the greatest impact when applied at an early age. In fact, several fine comprehensive school health education programs (eg, Health Ahead/Heart Smart, Know Your Body) have demonstrated that behavior can be changed and that the risk factors for heart disease can be reduced. Such programs are most cost effective when they are multifactorial in nature and address health promotion on a broad scale. Therefore, comprehensive school health education programs should be a component of national health-care reform. The investment in early health education will pay off by deterring chronic diseases in adulthood and will thus contribute to a healthier nation.

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