Preventing Deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke By Improving Care: New CDC Report Reveals Many People Are Dying Needlessly

Preventing Deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke By Improving Care: New CDC Report Reveals Many People Are Dying Needlessly

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that there are were over 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke in 2010 in the United States that need not have happened, and that over half of the people who died from these preventable causes were under the age of 65.

Read the full report online here, entitled “Preventable Deaths from Heart Disease & Stroke: Improving care can save more lives.

It is known that cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 1 in 3 deaths in this country. This is true even though the CDC report confirms that most of these diseases can be managed or even prevented in the first place by addressing three risks:

  1. Age  — Death rates in 2010 were highest among adults aged 65-74 years (401.5 per 100,000 population), which is understandable. However, preventable death rates have fallen faster for elders (those aged 65–74 years) when compared to those under age 65.
  2. Race/ethnicity  — According to the CDC, blacks are twice as likely as whites to die from preventable heart disease and stroke. Black men have the highest risk of all groups and Hispanic men are twice as likely as Hispanic women to suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke.
  3. Sex — Men died from preventable deaths due to heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure at a much higher rate than women (83.7 per 100,000 for men compared to 39.6 per 100,000 for women.

“Despite progress against heart disease and stroke, hundreds of thousands of Americans die each year from these preventable causes of death,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Many of the heart attacks and strokes that will kill people in the coming year could be prevented by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol and stopping smoking.”

Part of the responsibility of stopping these kinds of preventable deaths lies with the individual. However, the CDC points out that health care professionals also have a duty here. From the Report:

Health care systems and providers can also:

Use electronic health records to identify and support patients who need help quitting smoking or who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Refer patients to community resources, such as smoking quit-lines and blood pressure self management programs.
Track patient progress on the ABCS of heart health — Aspirin when appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation.

It’s important to be aware of the risk factors and to take care of yourself.  However, it’s also important for doctors, clinics, nursing homes, care facilities, and others to be doing their part not only to educate but also to monitor your heart risk factors, particularly if you are in a high risk group.

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