Even so, the overall findings are positive, experts say.
"There are hundreds of thousands of individuals who might have died or been substantially disabled from cardiovascular disease in the past who are instead able to lead full, productive, satisfying lives," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a cardiologist at the University of California Los Angeles, who is familiar with the report findings.
Experts believe that advances in medicine may have outweighed the damage from the obesity epidemic during the decade studied.
Stents that prop open clogged blood vessels and medications for people with heart disease have made a major impact on survival rates, said Dr. Kirk Garratt, clinical director of interventional cardiovascular research at Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute in New York City.
"You cannot deny that these stents improve the quality of life for millions of Americans living with heart disease," he said.
But healthy lifestyle choices are crucial for longevity, and the way to become a healthier society is to do it "one individual at a time," Roger said. Controlling weight through diet and exercise will be key to achieving the Heart Association's 2020 goals of improving cardiovascular health by 20 percent and reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke by 20 percent.
Genetics play a significant role in the development of cardiovascular disease, the authors acknowledge. An early heart attack in a parent doubles the risk of heart attack in men and boosts it by 70 percent in women. And your risk of heart disease will double if your brother or sister has a history of heart disease.
But genes aren't destiny. If you're at higher risk, take care of yourself, these experts advise.
"You can't really control your genes," Roger said, "but you can control
All rights reserved