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Friday, December 17, 2010

Death from heart disease continues to decline but burden remains huge

Every year, I read the AHA's Heart and Stroke stats with one eye closed. I read wanting justification that my hard work is paying off. Yet, I am consistently humbled by how much work needs to be done. So, how did we do this year.

The good news: from 1997-2007
- death rates from heart disease have declined 27.8%
- death rates from stroke have declined 44.8%

Now the bad news:
- In 2007, the total cost of heart disease and stoke was $286 billion. All cancers and benign tumors only cost $228 billion
- 1/3 of Americans have high blood pressure
- > 67% of adults are overweight
- during the past 30 years, the prevalence of obesity in kids 6-11 years increased from 4 to more than 20%
- 15% of adults have total cholesterol levels of 240md/dL or greater
- 8% of adults have diabetes
- 36.8% of adults have pre-diabetes

My take: I agree with what my colleagues have been writing. We are doing really well at keeping our patients from dying. Emergency angioplasty, automated defibrillators and thrombolytic therapy has changed the acute death risk from heart attacks and strokes. Yet, the burden of disease is HUGE. I expect that at some point, we will begin the see the decline in death rates plateau as the overall burden of disease becomes overwhelming. The increasing rate of obesity in this country is scary. It will hamper our ability to continue to lower the rates of heart disease and stroke.

If the AHA is to reach is 2020 impact goal "to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths by 20% - drastic changing in the rate of obesity will need to occur. I believe this must start with our children and young adults.

We all must eat better and exercise more if we ever want to reach a time when heart disease and stroke is not the largest killer and most expensive disease of Americans.

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