Heart Disease Deaths Decline in U.S.
Death From Heart Disease Is Down, but Less So in Women and Elders
WebMD News Archive
May 8, 2006 -- The good news: heart disease
deaths are down in the U.S. The fine print: that decline is softer in some
groups -- especially women and the elderly -- than others.
Make no mistake; heart disease is still a leading cause of death for men and
women alike. But a study in the journal Circulation shows that women
and elderly people may be more likely to die of heart problems than others.
The study tracked cardiovascular disease in Olmsted County, Minn., from 1979
to 2003. The biggest town in Olmsted County is Rochester, Minn., where the Mayo
Clinic is located.
Mayo Clinic researchers including Yariv Gerber, PhD, got their data from
Olmsted County's death certificates. They focused on coronary heart disease,
other heart diseases, and noncardiac diseases of the circulatory system, using
the term "cardiovascular disease" (CVD) for the grand total of all of
From 1979 to 2003, 6,378 Olmsted County residents aged 25 and older died of
CVD. Their causes of death are as follows:
- Most (57%) died of coronary heart disease.
- 18% died of other heart diseases.
- A quarter died of noncardiac diseases of the circulatory system.
Overall, the county's CVD deaths dropped by half from 1979 to 2003. But the
declines were a bit uneven. The details:
- Women had a lower annual decline in CVD deaths than men (2.5% for women;
3.3% for men).
- Older people had a lower annual decline in CVD deaths than younger people
(1.5% for people aged 85 and older; 3.9% for those up to 74 years old).
- Out-of-hospital CVD deaths had a lower annual decline than in-hospital CVD
deaths (1.8% for out-of-hospital CVD deaths; 4.8% for in-hospital CVD
Out-of-hospital deaths included deaths occurring in emergency rooms as well
as people who were declared dead on arrival at a hospital.
Coronary heart disease remained the leading cause of CVD death during the
years that were studied despite declining by 3.3% per year, the study
However, other types of CVD death showed slower annual declines (2.1% for
other heart diseases such as heart failure and 2.4% for
noncardiac circulatory system diseases such as stroke).
The overall drop in CVD deaths is "encouraging," the researchers
write. They call for these steps:
- Further reduce CVD deaths for women and the elderly.
- Highlight CVD deaths not caused by coronary heart disease.
Stress CVD prevention.
Olmsted County is mainly white, but the findings seem in line with other
national studies, write Gerber and colleagues.