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Deaths From Heart Disease, Stroke Down

U.S. Heart Disease and Stroke Deaths Fell 24% From 1994 to 2004, Says American Heart Association
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 18, 2007 -- U.S. deaths from heart disease and stroke declined by nearly 25% from 1994 to 2004, according to a new report from the American Heart Association.

The report shows that cardiovascular disease death rates dropped by 24.7% from 1994 to 2004. That includes deaths from coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular conditions.

The report also singles out a 24% drop in the stroke death rate during the same decade. But the report doesn't detail the reasons for the decline in the cardiovascular disease and stroke death rates.

Heart disease and stroke remain two of the nation's top causes of death.

"Nearly 2,400 Americans die of CVD [cardiovascular disease] each day -- an average of one death every 37 seconds," states the American Heart Association. Cardiovascular disease "claims approximately as many lives each year as cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, accidents, and diabetes mellitus [ type 2 diabetes] combined."

Stroke strikes every 40 seconds in the U.S., on average, and stroke accounts for about one in every 17 U.S. deaths, according to preliminary 2005 data cited in the report.

Heart Disease Statistics

The report also includes these statistics on the prevalence (total number of cases) of the following conditions:

The heart disease and stroke statistics appear online in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

Heart Disease and Stroke: What You Can Do

Many risk factors for heart disease and stroke can be reduced by steps including not smoking, losing extra weight, exercising, and following a healthy diet.

The first step is to check in with your doctor to gauge your heart's health and to learn what you can do to improve it.

It's also a good idea to review the symptoms of heart attack and stroke. Call for emergency medical care at the first sign of these symptoms -- the stakes are too high to see if the symptoms pass.

Heart attack symptoms may include:

  • Chest discomfort that may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. The discomfort may last for more than a few minutes or come and go.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, which may or may not accompany chest discomfort.
  • Other symptoms such as breaking out in a cold sweat and experiencing nausea or lightheadedness.

Stroke symptoms may include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body.
  • Abrupt loss of vision, strength, coordination, sensation, speech, or the ability to understand speech. These symptoms may become more marked over time.
  • Sudden dimness of vision, especially in one eye.
  • Sudden loss of balance, possibly accompanied by vomiting, nausea, fever, hiccups, or trouble swallowing.
  • Sudden and severe headache with no other cause followed rapidly by loss of consciousness -- indications of a stroke due to bleeding.
  • Brief loss of consciousness.
  • Unexplained dizziness or sudden falls.

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