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Heart Disease Still World’s No. 1 Cause of Death

The annual observance of American Heart Month seeks to raise awareness.

By University Alliance on February 05, 2015
Report Monitors Heart Health Worldwide

Despite a significant decrease in the death rate from heart disease, cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 killer worldwide, causing more than 17 million deaths annually, according to a new report by the American Heart Association.

That total is projected to surpass 23 million by 2030.

The report, titled Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2015 Update, marks the first time the American Heart Association (AHA) has included a global perspective, with data from nearly 200 nations. The AHA has been publishing an annual report for more than a half-century.

In the United States, about one-third of deaths in 2011 were the result of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. That translates to more than 2,100 deaths a day.

The financial implications also are huge. The annual cost of healthcare services and lost productivity as a result of heart disease in the United States is estimated at nearly $109 billion, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.

The CDC and American Heart Association are among the numerous organizations that will seek to focus attention on cardiovascular health during American Heart Month in February 2015. The annual observance began in 1964, when cardiovascular diseases were the cause of more than 50% of deaths nationwide each year.

“I urge the people of the United States to give heed to the nationwide problem of the heart and blood-vessel diseases, and to support the programs required to bring about its solution,” President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed in signing a joint resolution of Congress establishing the awareness campaign.

Medical advances, lifestyle changes and other factors have brought significant progress since the Johnson era. For example, between 2001 and 2010, there was a 39% drop in the heart disease death rate and a 21% decrease in the number of deaths caused by stroke.

Still, heart disease and stroke remain the top two causes of death worldwide, the AHA noted.

Among the other findings of the 2015 Update:

  • Nearly 86 million Americans have cardiovascular disease or are stroke survivors
  • Stroke is the fourth-leading killer in the United States, with an estimated 129,000 deaths annually
  • Worldwide, 33 million people suffered a stroke in 2010

The report’s authors noted that “poor diet and physical inactivity in childhood and younger age are strong predictors of suboptimal health factors later in life.”

By 2020, the American Heart Association wants to see a 20% improvement in the cardiovascular health of all Americans and a 20% reduction in the number of cardiovascular-related deaths. The organization’s efforts include encouraging people to improve their health by following Life’s Simple 7: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; lose weight; reduce blood sugar; and stop smoking.

Category: 2015 Headlines