Good News! Heart Attack Rates Are Down and Survival Rates Are Up

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Since the mid-1990s, fewer Americans are having heart attacks each year and more of those who do are surviving, according to a Yale University study published in JAMA Network Open, which points to heart attack prevention and treatment improvements over the past 20 years as the reasons.

The largest, most comprehensive analysis of heart attacks in the United States to date, the study involved more than four million Medicare patients over age 65 between 1995 and 2014. Hospitalizations for heart attack dropped 38 percent during this time, and the 30-day mortality rate for heart attack dropped by more than one-third, to an all-time low of 12 percent.

While the news is encouraging overall, the researchers identified specific counties across the country — mostly in areas with high rates of unemployment — that have seen little or no improvement in heart attack survival rates since 1995, and have been characterized as “priority health areas” in previous heart-health research.