Published On: Wed, Jun 29th, 2016

In US, heart disease mortality no longer in steep decline

Doctors perform an open

AFP/File / Jean-Sebastien Evrard Doctors perform an open-heart surgery in a cardiac surgery unit at the CHU Angers teaching hospital in Angers, western France, on October 24, 2013

Miami (AFP) – Heart disease remains the top killer in the United States as a long-term trend of declining mortality has leveled out in recent years, possibly due to rising obesity and diabetes, researchers said Wednesday.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Cardiology, showed that the US national heart-and stroke-related mortality rate declined at an average of 3.8 percent per year between 2000 and 2011.

The decline has slowed to less than one percent a year since 2011, however.

Although the study did not investigate reasons for the slowdown, experts said causes may include increases in obesity and diabetes.

“Despite significant improvements in heart health over the past century, the increase in these chronic health conditions in epidemic proportions may be driving the recent slowdown,” said senior author Jamal Rana, a Kaiser Permanente cardiologist.

Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States since 1921.

The mortality rate has declined in recent decades due to advances in medical treatment and prevention, the increased use of statins and aspirin, fewer people smoking and more getting adequate exercise and controlling their blood pressure, the study said.

Researchers had expected cancer to overcome heart disease as the top US killer sometime around 2013, but the latest research shows that has not happened, and may not happen anytime soon.

“From 2000 to 2011, cancer was on track to bypass heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States,” Rana said. “Based on the current findings, this may not happen.”

“Given this startling trend, the cardiovascular health care community needs to reaffirm its commitment to developing innovative ways to improve heart disease prevention at the population level,” he added.

The rate of decline would have to reach an annual two percent in order to achieve the American Heart Association’s strategic goal of reducing deaths from both cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent between 2010 and 2020, said lead author Stephen Sidney, director of research clinics at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research.

Mortality from cancer has declined at a steady rate of 1.5 percent annually from 2000 to 2014, according to the study.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology