Tag Archives: Dr. John Wald

Mayo survey: Americans taking action to improve heart health

a health care provider in a white lab coat and stethoscope holding a red plastic heart
Results of a new Mayo Clinic survey show most Americans are working to improve their heart health.

“Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of men and women,” says Dr. John Wald, medical director for Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. “The encouraging news is people are taking action and making changes that can have a positive impact on their cardiovascular fitness.”

According to the latest Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup, three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans abstain from smoking to prevent heart disease, while nearly two-thirds exercise regularly (64 percent) or eat specific heart-healthy foods (63 percent).

“Men were more likely to exercise to improve their heart health, and women were more likely to alter their diet to improve their heart health,” Dr. Wald adds.

Watch: Dr. Wald comments on heart health improvements by gender.

Results also show, when there is a family history of heart disease, cardiovascular health becomes even more focused.

“Eight-five percent of Americans have a greater awareness of symptoms of a heart attack just based on the fact they’ve had a friend of a family member who has had a heart attack,” Dr. Wald says.

Watch: Dr. Wald comments on heart health awareness through family history.

Because of a family history, two-thirds (67 percent) of survey participants say they have made dietary changes. Nearly as many (59 percent) began monitoring their blood pressure and cholesterol regularly. Approximately half (51 percent) increased exercise.

The survey also reveals African-Americans are most worried about their heart health with more than two-thirds (71 percent) describing themselves as concerned, compared to Caucasian (41 percent) and Hispanic (37 percent) participants.

“And they have a reason to be worried,” says Dr. Wald. “Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans, African-Americans  die at a much higher rate than other groups within the U.S. So I think it’s a point that we have to address.”

Watch: Dr. Wald comments on African-American concern about heart health.

More than 1,000 people participated in the latest Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup conducted by phone in mid-December. All respondents were 18 or older.

Additional insights from the survey:

  • Americans find general search engines such as Google and Bing the most helpful in learning about health conditions (71 percent) and proactively managing their health (62 percent).
  • Doctors (81 percent) have the biggest impact on what Americans know about heart health, followed by family (63 percent), friends (46 percent) and the media (33 percent).

  • The highest proportion of respondents (29 percent) said their job and/or school contributed the most to their stress level in 2016.
  • The top reasons for exercising are cardiovascular health (66 percent), weight loss or management (65 percent) and stress relief (58 percent).
  • Two in 5 (42 percent) Americans are aware of the target heart rate they should be achieving in aerobic exercise for their age.

Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup shows African-Americans significantly more concerned about heart health

African American woman stretching before exercise

ROCHESTER, Minn. – A new survey by Mayo Clinic revealed that more than two-thirds of African-Americans are concerned about their heart health (71 percent), which is significantly more than Caucasian (41 percent) or Hispanic (37 percent) respondents. Respondents from the South (51 percent) were also significantly more likely to express concern than those in the Northeast (39 percent) or West (35 percent).

These findings were uncovered as part of the Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup, which first launched in January 2016 and provides a quick pulse on consumer health opinions and behaviors at multiple times throughout the year.

“The Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup helps us to better understand the health knowledge and practices of all Americans, beyond the patients that walk through our doors,” says John Wald, M.D., medical director for Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. “With each survey, we’re able to pinpoint what we’re doing well as a nation and what needs improvement, so that we can create a dialogue about those important topics.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly Reller, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, [email protected]

Search engines help consumers learn more, manage health conditions

While many people joke around about “Dr. Google,” survey respondents confirmed that Americans find general search engines to be the most helpful tool in learning more about health conditions (71 percent) and proactively managing their health (62 percent).

When it comes to knowledge of heart health, doctors (81 percent) were cited as having the biggest influence on consumer knowledge, followed by family members (63 percent). The most likely reasons to think about heart health include:

  • A family member or friend being diagnosed with heart disease (84 percent)
  • Visiting a primary care physician (80 percent)
  • Conversations with a significant other or children (69 percent)

1 in 4 has family history of heart disease before age 55

Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 percent) cited a family history of heart disease (i.e., heart attack, bypass surgery or stents before 55). This history impacted knowledge and behaviors for many respondents:

  • Eighty-five percent answered that they were more aware of the symptoms of a heart attack because of their family history.
  • Top lifestyle modifications due to family history of heart disease included making dietary changes (67 percent), monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol regularly (59 percent), and increasing exercise (51 percent).
  • Among baby boomers, 53 percent of those with a family history of heart disease answered that they took a daily aspirin, and the same percentage kept an aspirin with them at all times.

When asked what they do to help prevent heart disease, men (68 percent) were more likely than women (60 percent) to say that they exercise regularly, and women (68 percent) were more likely than men (58 percent) to answer that they eat heart-healthy foods.

“Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Wald. “You can manage your risk for heart disease by taking proactive steps, such as improving your diet, exercising regularly, and keeping a check on your cholesterol and blood pressure. To top it off, Mayo Clinic now offers a blood test that can predict the likelihood of having a heart attack within one year, which helps us intervene early and prevent a heart attack before it happens.”

Click to see the entire National Health Checkup infographic.

Women exercise for weight loss; men exercise for recreation

The survey also explored healthy behaviors, such as exercise, revealing that men and women have different motivators. Women (70 percent) are more likely than men (60 percent) to exercise for weight loss or management; whereas, men (59 percent) are more likely than women (45 percent) to exercise for recreation. Less than half of respondents answered that they knew what their target heart rate should be during exercise. Maintaining a target heart rate can reduce the risk of overtraining or not training enough.

Job and/or school ranks as top stressor for Americans

Unrelieved stress can damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease. When asked to pick the one factor that contributed the most to their level of stress over the past year, respondents were most likely to answer their job and/or school (29 percent):

  • Baby boomers (17 percent) were more likely than millennials (10 percent) to cite politics as a top stressor.
  • Hispanic respondents (41 percent) were more likely to answer job and/or school than Caucasians (27 percent) or African-Americans (18 percent).
  • African-American respondents (20 percent) were more likely to list health issues as their primary cause of stress than Caucasians (10 percent) or Hispanics (4 percent).

“Our third National Health Checkup revealed that African-Americans not only are more concerned about their heart health, but they also experience significantly more stress as a result of their health issues,” says Dr. Wald. “It is clear that we need to help empower all Americans, and in particular those who are most concerned about their heart health, to help manage their risk. Discuss these concerns with your doctor, and know your family history.”

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About the Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup
The Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup was conducted through an ORC International Telephone CARAVAN survey of 1,005 adults living in the continental U.S. and was conducted Dec. 15-18, 2016. To learn more, visit healthcheckup.mayoclinic.org.

About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/.

Mayo Clinic Minute: Don’t wait on losing weight

a woman celebrating health and weight lossRespondents to the latest Mayo Clinic National Health Check-Up survey say America has a weight problem, but only about half say there’s progress being made in solving it.

“That tells us that consumers understand there is a problem,” says Dr. John Wald, medical director for Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. “And we need to help in creating a fix.”

Dr. Wald says the solution will come through education and real-life strategies for shedding pounds. A starting point is to simply change how often you step on the scale.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Wald offers a new way to look at weight in the New Year. Jeff Olsen reports.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:59) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Mayo Clinic Minute: 5 cancer prevention strategies

cancer patient, lying down, being comfortedResults from the latest Mayo Clinic National Health Check-Up survey show Americans who are concerned about cancer may not be aware of all the ways they can prevent it.

“That’s one of the benefits of this survey,” explains Dr. John Wald, medical director for Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. “It allows us to understand where there are gaps in information and to address them.”

For example, Dr. Wald says 84 percent of survey participants indicated they would use a cancer prevention vaccine. However, only 40 percent of women and fewer than 10 percent of men currently get the cancer prevention vaccine for HPV.

“That tells us there is a disconnect,” explains Dr. Wald. “And, that’s an opportunity for us to create a new conversation.”

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Wald starts that conversation with five simple cancer prevention strategies you can work into your life.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:56) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Mayo Clinic Minute: Survey reveals cancer is top health care concern

A woman patient receives a cancer diagnosis from the doctor.Results from the latest Mayo Clinic National Health Check-Up put cancer at the top of a list of American health care concerns. Survey participants labeled brain cancer the scariest form of the disease, followed by pancreatic, lung and breast cancer.

“While cancer is the biggest concern, nearly three-quarters of respondents believe that at least some progress is being made in finding answers,” says Dr. John Wald, medical director for Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. “Indeed, early detection and treatment advances are improving outcomes.”

The Mayo Clinic National Health Check-Up explores a variety of health perspectives and behaviors among American adults. The latest edition of the survey was conducted in July and includes responses from 1,012 participants on questions about brain health, sleep routines and more.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, reporter Jeff Olsen speaks with Dr. Wald about what was revealed in the analysis.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:02) is in the downloads. Read the script.