RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – After making significant progress in the prevention of cardiac-related deaths over the last two decades, it appears we have made little further progress since 2011.
A new study has shown that since 2011 the decline in cardiac death rates has remained flat. Previously, we were seeing reductions of nearly 5 percent per year.
Over the last four decades, deaths from cardiovascular disease have been steadily declining. However, in 2011 this rate of decline has stopped and now the death rates have leveled off.
The study found that the stalling of the death-rate decline for cardiovascular disease and stroke began in 2011 and remained flat through 2014. It occurred across genders and racial and ethnic groups. In addition, death rates from cancer, which had declined on average 1.5 percent a year between 2000 and 2010, continued to drop at about the same rate through 2014.
The likely reason for the slower decline in cardiac deaths in the U.S. is the epidemic of obesity and the increase in people with type 2 diabetes. Both of these are significant risk factors for heart disease. The rise in obesity first emerged across all ages in the U.S. in about 1985 and researchers believe the consequences of this rise in body size in the country is now being seen in the change in cardiac death rates.
Currently nearly 35 percent of Americans are considered to be obese. Obesity is defined by a ratio of your body weight and height known as BMI. Nearly one-third of all children are now considered obese as well.
We know that we are now spending nearly $150 billion annually on obesity and obesity-related illness in the U.S. If we do not change our habits as a society, it is likely that nearly 50 percent of Americans will be obese by the year 2030.
The risk factors for heart disease include
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history
- Male sex
While we cannot change our gender or our family history we can work on our modifiable risk factors. Every person must evaluate his or her own risk. It is important that we do not smoke, that we exercise and eat a healthy diet. If we are able to maintain a more healthy body weight, many patients are able to reverse their type 2 diabetes and may be able to get off of medications for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
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