CONFRONTING A KILLER
- As we in the news media are always open to stories on so-far largely theoretical threats like bird flu or West Nile virus, we have an obligation to keep a spotlight on ailments that currently kill Americans by the millions. That's an obligation we tried to meet with our coverage of American Heart Month events, in particular with Saturday's front-page story and special section.
The statistics show that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 1 million Americans a year dying from heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular disorders. These ailments account for two of every five deaths - more than all cancers put together.
When it comes to this health problem, women are catching up with men. As one health care specialist explained in one of our stories, women also too often have stress, sedentary lifestyles and high blood pressure. And sometimes they also smoke.
County residents need to take advantage of free screenings and educational programs, talk to their doctors and other knowledgeable members of the health care community about diet, exercise and lifestyle changes - and not slough off persistent serious discomfort, even if it doesn't match their preconceptions about what a heart attack is like.
- The new policy unanimously adopted by the county school board this week was a modest but prudent reaction to a burgeoning national issue: As a nation, we're realizing we've underestimated the long-term effect concussions have on the brain, particularly on the still-maturing brains of young athletes.
Under the policy, coaches and physical education teachers will be required to undergo training every two years on how to recognize and respond to concussions. The policy also details who should be notified when there's a suspected head injury.
It's a sensible step - and almost certainly not the last one that will be needed.
- The fatal shooting of Timothy Reeves' dog, Vern, was a tragedy. Officer Rodney Price was canvassing their Glen Burnie neighborhood after a burglary Feb. 1, when he was confronted by this very large family pet. He said he fired twice when Vern, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, attacked him.
Police have launched an investigation and put Reeves on administrative duty. The findings aren't likely to ease the pain of Timothy or his family. They should take comfort in the reaction of police Chief Kevin Davis. Rather than stand behind subordinates, Davis went to the Reeves' home on Sunday to offer condolences and promise he would find out exactly what happened.
It was exactly the right response. Davis on Monday said his offers could use more training on non-lethal ways to handle confrontations with dogs. We urge him to follow through.