Latest data from the American Heart Association's Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics shows that though death rates due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are declining, it is still the biggest cause of deaths in the US.
Published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the update provides statistics about cardiovascular diseases, risk factors, treatments, quality of care and costs.
The report enumerates heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure and several other conditions including arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy and peripheral arterial disease in Cardiovascular diseases.
"These statistics make it clear that cardiovascular disease remains, by far, our greatest public health challenge," said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the association's Statistics Committee, which, along with the association's Stroke Statistics Subcomittee, is responsible for the Update.
While CVD deaths appear to be decreasing, the report suggests that the prevalence of many related risk factors, such as obesity, is holding steady or increasing in the country.
"Although we have made some substantial strides in understanding the causes of cardiovascular disease, the data in this publication show that we have a long way to go to capture people's attention and to implement the prevention and treatment programs we need," said Lloyd-Jones, an associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
The report blames changing dietary habits for fuelling obesity, indicating that many Americans are not consuming recommended levels of foods like fruits and vegetables.
Smoking, which raises the risk of coronary heart disease death two to three times, remains highly prevalent. As per the report, over 46 million US adults are daily smokers, and about 4,000 teenagers smoke every day.
Diabetes is also a major cardiovascular risk factor. The update suggests that the increasing prevalence of diabetes is leading to an increasing prevalence of CVD morbidity and mortality. At least 65 percent of people with diabetes die from some type of cardiovascular disease.
However, the update includes some good news on improvements in the quality of care given to CVD patients in hospitals.
Lloyd-Jones says that the update contains a wealth of information that is useful for researchers, the media, policymakers, clinicians and the general public alike and hopes that it will enhance awareness that cardiovascular disease is highly preventable and very treatable - if people make themselves aware of their risks and the potential approaches.
The Update is available in the Dec. 17 online issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.