Preventable Deaths from Heart Disease

A quarter of heart disease deaths in the US could be prevented says CDC

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, claiming close to 800,000 lives each year. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that many of these deaths could be prevented.

According to a report released by the CDC, close to one in three deaths in the United States each year is caused by heart disease and stroke. It is estimated that at least 200,000 of these deaths could be prevented through lifestyle changes and healthier habits.

Quitting smoking, increasing physical activity and reducing the amount of salt in one's diet are just a few of the changes individuals can make to help prevent heart disease.

"Make healthy lifestyle choices to help protect your heart."

This CDC report is the first ever to document how many deaths caused by heart disease and stroke could be prevented in people under the age of 75 through public health interventions, lifestyle changes or medical care.

The report highlighted the risk factors for heart disease which include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and being overweight or obese.

In the CDC report, responsibilities of these different groups were outlined. For individuals, important responsibilities will include quitting smoking, increasing physical activity and speaking with doctors about the "ABCS" of heart health (Aspirin when appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation).

The report highlighted that certain groups are at an increased risk of having heart disease and should be extra vigilant in monitoring these risk factors and making the necessary changes to prevent heart disease.

Men were found to have a higher risk of dying from heart disease compared to women, with black men having the highest risk, followed by American Indian/Alaska Native men. For women, the same racial pattern was found, with black women having the highest risk followed by American Indian/Alaska Native women.

As individuals age, the risk for heart disease also increases. Individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 were found to have the highest rate of heart attack and stroke. People living in the South also have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Counties in southern states were found to have the greatest overall risk for heart disease.

The report did contain some positive news. Significant progress has already been made to reduce the number of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke, with a drop of close to 30 percent from 2001 to 2010. Despite this progress, CDC officials noted that more progress can and still needs to be made.

Sarah Samaan, MD, FACC, a board certified cardiologist at Legacy Heart Center in Plano, Texas, told dailyRx News, "Cardiovascular disease is our leading cause of death, and a major driver of disability and healthcare costs. However, most cases can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and, when needed, medical treatment for blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol."

Younger people are more apt to ignore health issues, and may also be reluctant to seek medical care due to financial concerns or worries about being labeled with a medical condition. Black men and women are at especially high risk compared to other racial and ethnic groups. However, the sooner a health condition is identified and treated, the less likely it is to cause serious harm," said Dr. Samaan, who was not involved in this study.

"There is no perfect way to estimate one's risk for heart disease. A simple and useful tool is the Framingham Risk calculator, which can be found on the National Institutes of Health web site ( Since it doesn't take genetics into account, the score may underestimate the risk for someone with a strong family history of heart disease. Of course, it's important to check in with your doctor so that risk factors can be identified and treated early," said Dr. Samaan.

This report was published on September 3 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
September 4, 2013
Last Updated:
September 5, 2013