Heart disease has been the number one cause of death in the United States for almost a century. For ninety years, the condition has been wreaking havoc on the lives of Americans, killing some and leaving others disabled. Meanwhile, their families have to deal with the aftermath.
But a new contender has been trying to get on the first spot for quite a while now, and if the current trend keeps up, he might actually get the chance to do so. I’m talking about cancer, the number two national cause of death, which is actually number one in twenty one states. And cancer could realistically become the number one killer in the country, as heart disease is slowly declining in the United States.
Drop in heart disease
Over the past forty years, even if the condition is still the number one cause of death, heart disease has been slowly declining across most parts of the United States. The data came as result of an observational meta-analysis during which researchers from the CDC looked at heart disease deaths starting with 1973 and ending with 2010.
More than 3,000 counties over 48 adjoining states were involved in the study, and they all saw a drop in heart disease deaths. Country-wide, the drop was a surprisingly large 61% drop, although rates varied across state borders.
This brings us to our second topic, as the researchers discovered an inexplicable trend – the rates of heart disease have, for some reason, been shifting north to south over a very short period of time. However, as the meta-analysis was observational, no reason for this has been found. The CDC researchers are confident though that their findings can help prevent further heart disease deaths.
While some counties experienced a 64% or even 83% decrease, others only saw a decline of 9%. According to the study, the counties with the smallest decreases were in no particular order some parts of Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
CDC epidemiologist Michelle Casper stressed how important socio-economic factors and access to healthy food can influence heart disease rates. Be it in the form of quitting smoking, exercising more or eating healthily, the responsibility doesn’t fall entirely on the citizens.
Without support from state officials in the form of programs, access to facilities and raised awareness, most people simply can’t make the change that would not only help them live a better life, but also maybe save it.
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