Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Can Heart Deaths Continue to Drop?

Rising Obesity Threatens 20-Year Decline in U.S. Heart Deaths
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 6, 2007 -- The 20-year drop in U.S. heart deaths is half due to new treatments, half due to better lifestyle -- but swelling obesity threatens these gains.

The finding comes from a CDC effort to explain why, for the last two decades, fewer and fewer Americans die of heart disease.

In a tour de force of statistical analysis, CDC researchers Earl S. Ford, MD, MPH, Janet B. Croft, PhD, and colleagues came up with an answer.

"We were glad to find that 44% of this decrease was due to fewer risk factors, and 47% was due to treatments," Croft tells WebMD. "Both the patient and medical communities should be excited by these results."

What did Americans do to lower their heart disease risk?

Is the CDC satisfied? No way.

"It could have been better, Croft says.

That's because increases in body mass index -- in other words, obesity -- offset the gains by 8%. And diabetes -- also linked to obesity -- offset the gains by another 10%.

"I have concern that if we do not make a turn in this obesity epidemic, we could go back to the bad old days and see coronary heart disease increasing again," Croft says.

The CDC study appears in the June 7 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure