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Posted: February 05, 2008

Heart, Stroke Deaths Show Steady Decline -- But Risk Factors Increase

New government statistics show that coronary heart disease and stroke age-adjusted death rates are down markedly in recent years but some major risk factors are on the rise, which could drive death rates up in years to come.
Since 1999, heart disease death rates were down by 25.8% and stroke deaths down 24.4%, according to the figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 1999, the American Heart Association set a strategic goal of reducing the death rates from coronary heart disease and stroke, and reducing the risk factors for these diseases by 25 percent by 2010.
The new CDC data note early success in meeting the lower death rate goal for coronary heart disease, and show that success is near for the hoped-for 25% reduction in stroke. However, American Heart Association president Dr. Dan Jones said the victory could be short-lived if the risk factors that lead to heart disease and stroke are not also reduced.
"This progress in the reduction of death rates is a landmark achievement, and has come about as a result of tremendous efforts from many partners in research, health care, government, business and communities," said Jones.
"As encouraging as it is, heart disease and stroke remain the No. 1 and No. 3 causes of death in the United States. We still have remaining goals that we haven't yet met -- reductions in the risk factors that lead to heart disease and stroke, as well as eliminating the striking disparities in care for women and minority populations. We must continue to address those concerns at the same time we continue to support the advances that we know are saving lives today."
The reduction in the death rates for coronary heart disease and stroke equates to approximately 160,000 lives saved in 2005 (the most recent year for which data are available) compared with the 1999 baseline data.
Heart Association analysts say that if the current mortality trends hold, there may be a 36% decline in the age-adjusted coronary heart disease death rate and a 34% decline in the age-adjusted stroke death rate when the 2008 data are released in a few years.
As the population size in 2008 will be larger, it is projected that the estimated lives saved in 2008 will be approximately 240,000.
Several factors appear to have led to the reduction in deaths, including improvements in medications and in technology. In addition, the development of evidence-based practice guidelines has helped healthcare providers know what is effective both for the treatment and prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
(Article courtesy of

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