Heart Disease Death Rate Down Yet Americans Still at High Risk

By Deanna Lynn Sletten
Improved medical treatments for heart attack and stroke patients have reduced the number of deaths; however, the prevalence of heart disease still ranks high among Americans.  According to a recent report published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, between 1997 and 2007 (the most recent data available) deaths from heart disease dropped 27.8 percent and deaths by stroke declined by 44.8 percent.  However, the number of people with risk factors for heart disease continues to rise.

Why the Drop in Heart Disease and Stroke Deaths?

Veronique L Roger, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chair of health sciences research at the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, MN and lead author of this study, states that the decline in death rates from heart disease and stroke is attributed to improved quality of health care and medical techniques.  But, she states, there is still a high prevalence in risk factors for heart disease that includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and cigarette smoking.  Even though people are living longer due to better health care, they are still not doing enough to prevent developing heart disease.

Where Americans Stand for Risk Factors of Heart Disease and Stroke

According to the American Heart Association current statistics for heart disease and stroke risk factors are:

  • 33.5 percent of American adults have high blood pressure and only half of them manage to control the condition.
  • 23.1 percent of men and 18.1 percent of women smoke cigarettes.
  • 15 percent of adults have total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL.  This places them at double the risk for a heart attack. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended level is below 200 mg/dL.
  • 23.8 percent of adults have prediabetes and 8 percent have diabetes.
  • 67 percent of adults are overweight.

Roger strives to improve these numbers over the next 9 years by improving the cardiovascular health of Americans by 20 percent and also to continue to reduce deaths by 20 percent.  Even though heart disease deaths have declined, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in both men and women in America.  By continuing to educate Americans on the risk factors of heart disease and continued improvement in medical treatments, Roger hopes their goal of lowering heart disease numbers is obtainable by the year 2020.

Contact your HealthwoRx™ physician for more information about screenings and heart disease prevention.