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Seniors between age 65 through 74 are reducing death rates from heart disease and stroke but those under 65 are seeing their death rate increase.


Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

CDC report finds 200,000 heart disease and stroke deaths could have been prevented in 2010

With Obamacare, more Americans should be saved, as more will have access to health coverage and preventive care, including young people, other medically underserved groups

Aug. 3, 2013 - Preventable deaths from heart disease or stroke declined faster in 2010 among senior citizens age 65 through 74 years compared to those under age 65. The bad news is these 65 through 74 seniors still have the highest death rates for those under 75. And, over half of these preventable deaths were people who had not reached their 65th birthday.

Among all those under 75 in the U.S. more than 200,000 preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke occurred in 2010, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The report looked at preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke defined as those that occurred in people under age 75 that could have been prevented by more effective public health measures, lifestyle changes or medical care. 

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, kill nearly 800,000 Americans each year, or one in three deaths.  However, the report notes that most cardiovascular disease can be managed or prevented in the first place by addressing risk factors.

While the number of preventable deaths has declined in people aged 65 to 74 years, it has remained unchanged in people under age 65.  Men are more than twice as likely as women — and blacks twice as likely as whites — to die from preventable heart disease and stroke.

“Despite progress against heart disease and stroke, hundreds of thousands of Americans die each year from these preventable causes of death,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Many of the heart attacks and strokes that will kill people in the coming year could be prevented by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol and stopping smoking.”


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Key facts in the Vital Signs report about the risk of preventable death from heart disease and stroke:

   •  Age: Death rates in 2010 were highest among adults aged 65-74 years (401.5 per 100,000 population).  But preventable deaths have declined faster in those aged 65–74 years compared to those under age 65.

   •  Race/ethnicity: Blacks are twice as likely—and Hispanics are slightly less likely—as whites to die from preventable heart disease and stroke.

   •  Sex: Avoidable deaths from heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure were higher among males (83.7 per 100,000) than females (39.6 per 100,000).  Black men have the highest risk. Hispanic men are twice as likely as Hispanic women to die from preventable heart disease and stroke.

   •  Location: By state, avoidable deaths from cardiovascular disease ranged from a rate of 36.3 deaths per 100,000 population in Minnesota to 99.6 deaths per 100,000 in the District of Columbia.  By county, the highest avoidable death rates in 2010 were concentrated primarily in the southern Appalachian region and much of Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.  The lowest rates were in the West, Midwest, and Northeast regions.

The overall rate of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke went down nearly 30 percent between 2001 and 2010, with the declines varying by age.  

Lack of access to preventive screenings and early treatment for high blood pressure and high cholesterol could explain the differences among age groups.  Through the Affordable Care Act, more Americans will have access to health coverage and preventive care, including young people and other medically underserved groups.

To save more lives from these preventable deaths, doctors, nurses, and other health care providers can encourage healthy habits at every patient visit, including not smoking, increasing physical activity, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking medicines as directed. 

Nearly 800,000 Americans die each year from heart disease and stroke. Most of the major risk factors can be managed or prevented

Risk factors and solutions for managing them

  • High blood pressure – Make control your goal.

  • High cholesterol – Work with your doctor on a treatment plan to manage your cholesterol.

  • Diabetes – Work with your doctor on a treatment plan to manage your diabetes.

  • Tobacco use – If you don't smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke get help to quit.

  • Unhealthy diet – Eat a healthy diet, low in sodium and trans fats and high in fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Physical inactivity – The Surgeon General recommends adults engage in moderate intensity exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week.

  • Obesity – Work to maintain a healthy weight.

Providers should track patient progress on the ABCS of heart health — aspirin when appropriate, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, and smoking cessation.  Health care systems can adopt and use electronic health records to identify patients who smoke or who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and help providers follow and support patient progress.

Communities and health departments can help by promoting healthier living spaces, including tobacco-free areas and safe walking areas. Local communities also can ensure access to healthy food options, including those with lower sodium.

Important progress has been made, but more is needed to continue to save lives, particularly for people under 65 years

Under 65 years 65- 74 years
2001 110,299 117,662
2002 113,094 113,777
2003 114,280 107,822
2004 112,377 101,139
2005 113,714 97,110
2006 114,353 92,916
2007 112,918 89,080
2008 113,993 90,091
2009 117,139 90,996
2010 112,329 87,741


   • To learn more about heart disease and stroke, visit and

   • For more information on high blood pressure, visit

   • Visit millionhearts.hhs.govExternal Web Site Icon to learn more about Million Hearts, a national initiative that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017 by focusing on improving clinical care and community prevention strategies.

   • Vital Signsis a report that appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. 


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