Half of all heart disease deaths in the U.S. — the number one killer of both American men and women — could be prevented if Americans took the proper precautions against the top five modifiable risk factors.
About 610,000 Americans die each year from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Emory University researchers looked at data from all 50 U.S. states and found that these deaths could be cut in the top five nongenetic risk factors for heart disease: elevated cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and smoking.
High blood pressure and smoking were tied to the highest proportion of preventable deaths.
In 2009 and 2010, the states with the lowest levels of risk factors were in the West, like Colorado, and those with the highest levels were in the South, including Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
About 80 percent of people reported exposure to at least one of the five risk factors.
But there wasn’t a huge difference in cardiovascular-related deaths between best-off and worst-off states, the researchers said in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Still, had it been possible to eliminate every case of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking in the U.S., 54 percent of heart disease deaths among men and almost 50 percent of heart disease deaths among women in 2010 could have been prevented, they noted.
Although the rate of cardiovascular disease has dropped steadily, this study shows that we still have work to do.
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