Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death around the world. A global task force has been established to reduce premature mortality from heart diseases 25 percent worldwide by the year 2025.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 800,000 people die from heart diseases and related conditions like stroke each year in the United States, and more than 200,000 (one in four) of these deaths may be preventable.
Controlling cardiovascular risk factors through patient education programs, public health measures, lifestyle changes, and improvements in medical care may help reduce the number of preventable deaths from heart-related conditions.
Overall, the number of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke in people under the age of 75 declined by almost 30 percent in the United States between 2001 and 2010primarily in people aged 65 to 74. However, more than half of all preventable heart-related deaths occur in people younger than 65, and that number remained relatively unchanged during this time.
Facts from the CDC about preventable deaths from heart disease and related conditions in 2010:
- Rates were highest in adults aged 65 to 74, but preventable deaths in this age group have declined at a faster pace than in those younger than 65.
- African Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to die from preventable cardiovascular diseases, and Hispanics have a slightly lower risk than African Americans.
- Men are at higher risk for preventable death from heart-related conditions than women. African American men have the highest risk. Hispanic men are twice as likely as Hispanic women to die from preventable heart disease.
- The lowest rates of death from avoidable heart disease and related conditions are in the West, Midwest, and Northeast regions of the United States. The highest rates are in the southern Appalachian Trail region and areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Lowering Rates of Preventable Deaths from Heart Diseases
Preventive screenings and early treatment for conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol can help reduce the risk for preventable death from cardiovascular diseases. According to the CDC, the Affordable Care Act (coverage available beginning January 1, 2014) will provide more people access to medical insurance and preventive health care.
Health care providers should talk about healthy habits with patients at every medical appointment and track patients' progress on the ABCS of heart health:
- Aspirin, when appropriate
- Blood pressure control
- Cholesterol management
- Smoking cessation
Healthy habits include the following:
- Avoid smoking
- Increase physical activity
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Take medications as directed
Other recommendations include reducing/eliminating unhealthy fats (e.g., saturated fat, trans fat) in the diet, avoiding the harmful use of alcohol, and using multi-drug therapies to treat cardiovascular disease and stroke, when indicated.
Electronic health records can be used by providers and health care systems to identify people at increased risk for heart disease and monitor their health and progress.
Health departments, employers, food suppliers, and local communities can help promote healthy living in several ways. Examples include providing tobacco-free public areas, reducing the amount of sodium in foods, and ensuring that recreational areas, parks, and biking/walking trails are safe and well maintained.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association®