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CDC: One in Four Heart Deaths Could Be Prevented

Improving care can save lives, agency says (September 3)

More than 200,000 preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke occurred in the United States in 2010, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than half of these deaths happened to people younger than 65 years of age.

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.

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, kill nearly 800,000 Americans each year or one in three deaths. However, the report notes that most cardiovascular disease can be managed or prevented in the first place by addressing risk factors.

While the number of preventable deaths has declined in people aged 65 to 74 years, it has remained unchanged in people under age 65. Men are more than twice as likely as women — and blacks twice as likely as whites — to die from preventable heart disease and stroke.

The overall rate of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke went down nearly 30 percent between 2001 and 2010, with the declines varying by age. Lack of access to preventive screenings and early treatment for high blood pressure and high cholesterol could explain the differences among age groups.

To save more lives from these preventable deaths, doctors, nurses, and other health care providers can encourage healthy habits at every patient visit, including not smoking, increasing physical activity, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking medicines as directed, the CDC says. Providers should track patient progress on the ABCS of heart health — Aspirin when appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation. Health care systems can adopt and use electronic health records to identify patients who smoke or who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and help providers follow and support patient progress.

Source: CDC; September 3, 2013.

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