By the President of the United States of America
Diseases of the heart and blood vessels afflict 40 million Americans, cause 950,000 deaths annually, and cost the Nation more than $60 billion each year in lost wages and productivity and in direct costs of medical care.
Cardiovascular diseases, still our Nation's leading cause of death, have been the target of a continuing national effort since 1948. Leading this assault on illness, disability, and premature death are the American Heart Association, a private health organization supported by individual contributions, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, a Federal agency supported by tax dollars. For more than 30 years, the two organizations have worked closely together conducting and supporting research, training, education and community service directed against heart diseases. In that joint effort, they have enlisted the cooperation and resources of numerous organizations and agencies-both public and private.
Diseases of the heart and blood vessels remain the number one killer in the United States, but we have made substantial and heartening progress toward reducing the devastating toll. Deaths from coronary heart disease have declined by 25 percent during the past decade. Deaths from stroke have declined by 37 percent during the same period. These dramatic declines are a significant factor in the marked increase over the past decade in life expectancy for all Americans.
We have developed a much better understanding of the disease process and in the detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease. As a people, we have improved our overall health practices. For example, there has been a sharp drop in cigarette smoking among middle-aged men who are at the highest risk of heart attack. There has been much progress in the control of high blood pressure which is the major cause of stroke and gratifying and productive changes in our approach to diet and physical fitness.
We still have a long way to go before diseases of the heart and blood vessels are brought under control or eliminated as a major cause of suffering and premature death. In recognition of the seriousness of this menace to the Nation's health and well-being, and to encourage the consolidation and extension of our efforts against cardiovascular disease, the Congress, by joint resolution approved December 30, 1963 (77 Stat. 843; 36 U.S.C. 169b) has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating February as American Heart Month.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of February 1981, as American Heart Month. I invite the Governors of the States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the officials of other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people, to join with me in reaffirming our commitment to the fight against cardiovascular disease.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-one, and of the Independence of 'the United States of America the two hundred and fifth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:40 a.m., January 16, 1981]