Half of Heart Disease Deaths Preventable
Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but according to new analysis at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, more than half those deaths are preventable.
Shivani A. Patel led a team of researchers to analyze responses from a phone-based behavior risk factor survey in 2009 and 2010, as well as data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In total, they reviewed surveys from 500,000 people, ranging from ages 45 to 79. The scientists then estimated that if it was possible to completely eliminate every case of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking–all high risk factors for cardiovascular disease–54 percent of male heart deaths and nearly 50 percent of female heart deaths in 2010 could have been prevented.
They found that generally Western states in the U.S. had the lowest level of risk factors while states in the South had the highest levels. But overall, the researchers determined that there wasn’t a great disparity between the states with the lowest and highest risks of cardiovascular disease. In fact, they estimated that even if every state brought levels of those risk factors – such as obesity and smoking - down to the best level any state has so far achieved, less than 10 percent of heart disease deaths would be prevented.
“Even the best states aren’t doing that well,” Patel said.
He did say that legislation has helped reduce smoking to the point where obesity and diabetes may soon become the number one risk factors for cardiovascular disease,