First published on on June 9, 2014
In response to the question: What’s one health issue you wish Baby Boomers cared about more?

The Baby Boomers are hopeless. Myself included. Their fundamental health trajectories became locked-in long ago. Anyone who has been smoking for 30 years, or ignoring their blood pressure for 30 years, or obese for 30 years, is going to pay a price.

Of course, “hopeless” is hyperbole: benefits from taming smoking, blood pressure, and weight accrue at any age. But medical technology lacks the ability to erase the accumulated effects of these insults to the arteries. That’s why prevention is the best medicine.

So let’s talk to Gens Y, X, and the Millennials, who are still young enough to avoid paying the piper. If I were king, everyone would spend six months working in a cardiac catheterization laboratory during their early 20s, watching one moth-eaten arterial system after another displayed on screens in depressing detail, and watching patient after patient pay the price for their bad decisions.

Actually, looking at arteriograms of the brain, like the one below, would be even more impactful. Not only do brain arteries seem a much deeper part of one’s being than heart arteries, but their startling (and beautiful) intricacy emphasizes how many things must work right to keep us healthy. Preserving that beauty is the best investment you can make.

Credit: Wikimedia
Credit: Wikimedia

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