Heart Disease and Stroke Remain Leading Health Threats

Heart disease and stroke were among the leading causes of death

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Heart disease and stroke remain two of the most dangerous health problems in America, according to a recent review of statistics and research.

The American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update examined the most recent research and statistics on heart disease, stroke and risk factors.

The authors of this report found that heart disease and stroke were still two of the leading causes of death among American adults.

Additionally, the prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity among Americans continued to be a threat to heart health.

"Talk to your doctor about reducing your heart disease and stroke risk."

This report was compiled by a writing group consisting of doctors and health research professionals.

The statistical update is released yearly and represents the most up-to-date data and research on heart health and risk factors for heart-related illnesses.

The AHA writes the report in cooperation with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and other public health organizations.

In addition to clinical trials, studies and reviews, the writing group used several health surveys for the statistical update.

The researchers found that heart disease has remained the number one cause of death among Americans and has resulted in 380,000 deaths in the country every year.

Stroke was the fourth leading cause of death and has killed about 129,000 people per year. Stroke was also the leading cause of disability, the researchers wrote.

The authors of this report estimated that 2,150 Americans die every day from various cardiovascular diseases and strokes — more than all cancers combined.

According to the data available, about 720,000 Americans have heart attacks each year, resulting in about 122,000 deaths.

Fortunately, over the past 10 years, the death rate from heart disease declined by about 39 percent, according to the researchers.

However, the prevalence of certain risk factors remained high.

For example, in 2012, the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that 20.5 percent of men and 15.9 percent of women smoked cigarettes, a behavior that significantly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Additionally, the NHIS found that 31 percent of men and 28.6 percent of women were inactive, and that 51.4 percent of adults over 75 years old were inactive.

A total of 68 percent of American adults were overweight or obese, which increases the risk of multiple diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Additionally, one third of US adults had high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and heart failure.

The AHA recommends "Life's Simple 7" tips to reduce heart disease risk. These tips include not smoking, physical activity, healthy diet, healthy body weight and control of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

This statistical update was published in Circulation on December 18.

The update was supported by the American Heart Association. Many of the authors reported employment or other financial ties to universities, medical agencies and pharmaceutical companies.

Review Date: 
December 20, 2013
Last Updated:
December 31, 2013