CHD, Stroke Death Rates Down Sharply Since 1999

The American Heart Association said new mortality data from CDC proves that its strategic goal to reduce deaths from coronary heart disease by 25 percent by 2010 has been achieved. AHA set the same goal for reducing stroke mortality by 2010 and this, too, has almost been achieved, with death rates attributed to stroke down by 24.4 percent since 1999. CHD death rates are down by 25.8 percent since 1999, the report shows.

"However, potential problems loom for the future, as all of the major risk factors for these leading causes of death are still too high and several are actually on the rise. If this trend continues, death rates could begin to rise again in years ahead," AHA said in a news release posted on its Web site. "This progress in the reduction of death rates is a landmark achievement and has come about as a result of tremendous efforts from many partners in research, health care, government, business, and communities,” AHA President Dr. Dan Jones said in the release. "As encouraging as it is, heart disease and stroke remain the number one and number three causes of death in the United States. We still have remaining goals that we haven't yet met -- reductions in the risk factors that lead to heart disease and stroke, as well as eliminating the striking disparities in care for women and minority populations. We must continue to address those concerns at the same time we continue to support the advances that we know are saving lives today."

The lower death rates for CHD and stroke represent about 160,000 lives saved in 2005 (the most recent year for which data is available) compared to the 1999 baseline data, according to the association. AHA said factors contributing to the declines include better medications and technology and also the development of evidence-based practice guidelines. "We know that getting patients to the hospital quickly for the appropriate treatment is crucial to saving lives. We know that timely angioplasty to open blocked coronary arteries, or thrombolysis when primary angioplasty is not available or appropriate, is making a difference. The development of more hospitals into primary stroke centers and providing more rapid and better care for stroke victims have all made positive impacts," Jones said. The CDC report is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_10.pdf.

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