A recent study of over 34 million Medicare patients (over age 65) has shown a huge decrease in hospitalizations and deaths from heart attacks and strokes over the past decade. Published by the American Heart Association, the study’s conclusions showed that between 1999 and 2011 acute cardiovascular disease and strokes declined most rapidly, compared to other conditions. Here are the highlights of the study and tips on how you can practice heart-healthy habits.
The study produced surprisingly impressive results, and was noted as “jaw-dropping” from one researcher on the study. Yale School of Medicine professor of cardiology, Harlan Krumholz, told USA Today, “I don’t think anyone would have predicted we would have made this much progress. We’ve saved lives, we’ve saved suffering, and we’ve saved dollars. It’s amazing… What is surprising to me is how rapid and how profound the change has been.”
Using Medicare data, the study identified all patients over the last decade who were hospitalized with unstable angina, myocardial infarction, heart failure, ischemic stroke and other heart-related illnesses. After adjusting 30-day mortality, 30-day readmission and 1-year mortality rates, the scientists were able to use data from hospitalized patients to find the following:
- 84% decrease in unstable angina (sudden chest pain that often precludes heart attack)
- 31% decrease in number of hospitalizations for heart failure
- 23% lower risk of dying from heart attack
- 21% lower risk of death from angina
- 13% lower risk of dying from stoke
- Heart disease patients have a lower risk of dying within one year after leaving the hospital
The future of heart health
From the study, we can assume that the health care system is doing something right. Improved quality of health care both in the hospital and out has provided faster and better treatments for heart-related diseases. A widespread implementation of enhanced prevention strategies, such as cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, has impacted the results favorably. For the past 10 to 15 years, doctors, hospitals and health groups across the nation have diligently worked toward increasing awareness about heart disease – and it has paid off.
Your risk factors
Even with this optimistic news, heart disease still remains the leading cause of death in America for both men and women. Luckily, there are many factors you can control to decrease your risk of heart disease:
- Being overweight or obese
- Poor eating habits
- Excessive alcohol use
Heart disease prevention tips
Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol are two great places to start when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart. Performing even the simplest lifestyle changes resulted in an 86% lower risk of heart attack in a recent Swedish study of over 20,721 men. Other ways to ensure that your heart is in tip-top shape include:
- Visiting your doctor and/or cardiologist
- Staying on your blood pressure or cholesterol medication(s)
- Eating a healthy diet low in salt, saturated fat and cholesterol, but high in fresh fruits and veggies
- Exercising for up to 40 minutes a day
- Losing weight if you are considered overweight or obese
- Quit smoking
The heart is the center of our being, so why not treat it right? Use these tips for a happy, healthy heart today.
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