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Prevention Gets Credit for Fewer Heart Deaths
Date:5/11/2010

But increases in diabetes and obesity could reverse the trend, experts warn

TUESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Improved treatment, coupled with more effective preventive measures, may be having a positive impact on the death rate from coronary heart disease.

Death rate data from the United States and Canada both indicate a drop in cardiovascular deaths. According to the American Heart Association, the annual death rate from coronary heart disease from 1996 to 2006 declined 36.4 percent and the actual death rate dropped 21.9 percent.

In Canada, according to a study in the May 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the death rate from coronary heart disease in the province of Ontario fell by 35 percent from 1994 to 2005.

"The overall good news is that coronary heart mortality continued to go down despite people growing older," said study author Dr. Harindra C. Wijeysundera, a cardiologist at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Schulich Heart Centre in Toronto.

"Risk factor changes appear to play a very important role," he said, "accounting for just under half the improvement despite increasing availability of better treatments." And, he added, "the new therapies are being well-used."

But there is a cloud on the horizon that darkens the generally cheery report, Wijeysundera noted.

"Diabetes and obesity are on the increase," he said. "It doesn't take much of a negative trend in diabetes and obesity to eliminate the good trends." A 1 percent increase in diabetes correlates to a 6 percent increase in mortality, he said.

Those sentiments are echoed in the United States, where health experts have expressed growing concern about the rising incidence of overweight and obesity in the American population.

Experts contend that preventive measures -- including use of cholesterol-lowering statins and medications to prevent high blood pressure -- ar
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