Health Team

Study: Deaths from heart attack, stroke declining

Posted August 19, 2014 10:34 a.m. EDT
Updated August 19, 2014 10:37 a.m. EDT

When Larry Kleinman found himself getting out of breath last year, he was surprised to hear he had heart disease.

“I had a number of blockages, including a near total blockage of my right coronary artery,” he said.
The 55-year-old made his heart a priority.

“I went on cholesterol-lowering meds. I got my sleep apnea treated,” Kleinman said.

New research suggests more patients are doing the same. A study published in the journal Circulation shows hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease and stroke dropped significantly in the last 10 years. Researchers looked at data on 34 million people and found hospitalization rates fell 38 percent for heart attack and 34 percent for stroke.

“We can attribute a lot of these benefits to the implementation of preventive care – care that is directed at lifestyle, diet and exercise, the use of statins for cholesterol lowering therapy, the use of blood pressure medications,” said Dr. Robert Rosenson with Mount Sinai Hospital.

Researchers also credit less smoking and more timely treatments for the decline.

But experts say there is still more work to do. Heart Disease and stroke combined are still the leading cause of death in the United States.

“We are losing ground because the younger generation is more sedentary,” Rosenson said. “As a society, we need to take charge.”

Kleinman hopes his lifestyle changes will pay off.

“I try to eat only vegetarian or fish four or five days a week,” he said.

He's also getting more exercise and has dropped 12 pounds.