One in four U.S. heart disease deaths could be prevented, CDC says

CHICAGO Tue Sep 3, 2013 7:16pm EDT

A woman disposes a cigarette in Los Angeles, California, May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn

A woman disposes a cigarette in Los Angeles, California, May 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - About one in four U.S. deaths from heart disease could be avoided with better prevention efforts and treatment, according to a first-of-its-kind report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Tuesday.

As many as 200,000 Americans might have been spared an early death in 2010 from a heart attack or stroke if they had received screening and treatment for preventable causes of heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking, the report found.

Heart disease is the leading killer in the United States, accounting for nearly 800,000 deaths a year - about 30 percent of all U.S. deaths.

The report looked at preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke defined as those that occurred in people under age 75 that could have been prevented by more effective public health measures, lifestyle changes or medical care.

While the CDC has long tracked deaths from heart disease, it never previously issued a report estimating how many such deaths could be prevented.

In 2010, the states with the highest avoidable death rates were located primarily in the South, including Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Louisiana, the report stated. The states with the lowest rates were Minnesota, Utah, Colorado, Connecticut and New Hampshire, according to the report.


CDC officials said that the 2014 launch of key elements of the U.S. healthcare law signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 could help reduce avoidable deaths. The law is intended to provide better access to treatment for millions of uninsured Americans and routine coverage for preventive screenings.

"Beginning in October, the health insurance marketplaces will provide a new way for people to get health insurance so more patients have access to quality health insurance and coverage beginning as early as January 2014," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told a conference call with reporters.

The new health insurance exchanges are expected to provide coverage for up to 7 million uninsured Americans next year, according to government estimates. The law faces ongoing opposition among Republicans in Congress who say it imposes a financial burden on consumers and state governments.

The rate of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke - those that could have been avoided by treating high blood pressure and cholesterol and by discouraging smoking - fell nearly 30 percent between 2001 and 2010, the report said.

There were widespread differences in rates by age, geographical region, race and gender, Frieden said.

"While those who are age 65 to 74 still have the greatest rate of heart attack and stroke, more than half of the preventable deaths - about six in 10 - happen in people under the age of 65," Frieden said.

Frieden said preventable deaths declined much more quickly in people aged 65 to 74, which "may well be because they have access to health insurance through their Medicare coverage," the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

Men were more than twice as likely as women to die from heart disease and strokes that could have been prevented by treating high blood pressure and cholesterol and through smoking-prevention efforts, the report said. The rate of such deaths for U.S. men in 2010 was 83.7 per 100,000 in 2010 compared with 39.6 per 100,000 for women, the CDC said.

The report found blacks were twice as likely as whites to die from preventable heart disease and strokes. In 2010, the rate of avoidable deaths from heart disease and stroke in black men was about 80 percent higher than that of white men and black women.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Comments (7)
Bruce999 wrote:
A focus on nutrition and fitness would dramatically reduce heart disease (Google for the works of Dr. Esselstyn or Dr. Campbell or Dr. McDougall for example). Are our “health” professionals going to push people to eat well and get fit when everyone has Obamacare or are they going to be “medical” professionals and fall back on drugs and surgery as the more expedient path (i.e. high cost, high profit, decreased patient quality of life)? We know how to get healthy, we just need lots of help in a world dominated by meats, dairy, processed plant foods and big gulps.

Sep 03, 2013 8:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
LaVoix wrote:
Alas, people are “offended” when they are informed that their children are overweight and thus at risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. It’s okay to give them a vision test or a hearing test, but heaven forbid they know their BMI (Body Mass Index). So important to eat healthy foods; also exercise daily.

Sep 03, 2013 10:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Plantiful wrote:
There are four basic issues with the American diet, which is spreading across the globe and killing people prematurely:

1) Meat that is fed grains / corn lacks the proper nutrients and fatty acid ratio: cattle are supposed to eat grass, not corn. Corn feeding removes the needed omega-3 fats from the beef, leaving large amounts of omega-6, which are cited for cardiovascular disease, for one. Eat grass-fed / pastured meats, chicken, eggs, wild fish, etc. Natural food!

2) Restaurant food. This stuff is OK 1-2 times a month. It is often cooked with extra butter / cream for that “full,” satisfied feeling.

3) Too much sugar. Sugar (sucrose) is healthier than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Sucrose requires an enzyme, sucrase, to digest which takes some time. HFCS, however, goes straight into the bloodstream, requiring immediate processing: glucose by the pancreas (diabetes, weight gain), and fructose by the liver (forms triglycerides, which are harmful in high levels). Fructose is good to have as a piece of fruit (less so as juice).

4) Lack of exercise. In our increasingly mechanized lifestyle, there is little physical work needed. Our bodies are designed for work, however. Put away the blower and get out the rakes and brooms. Take the stairs.

Real Foods can be found at farmers markets or farms:
meats at eatwild[dot]com, and
fruits, vegetables at localharvest[dot]org.

Just enter your zipcode and help yourself to some local, very fresh, and better tasting foods while supporting your local economy.

Sep 03, 2013 12:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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