More than 200,000 preventable U.S. deaths from heart disease and stroke occurred in 2010, half in people age 65 and younger, federal health officials said.
Vital Signs, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, also found the overall rate of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke went down nearly 30 percent between 2001 and 2010.
However, while death rates in 2010 were highest among adults ages 65-74 years, preventable deaths declined faster in those ages 65-74 compared with those age 65 and younger.
Lack of access to preventive screenings and early treatment for high blood pressure and high cholesterol could explain the differences among age groups, the report said.
"Despite progress against heart disease and stroke, hundreds of thousands of Americans die each year from these preventable causes of death," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told reporters in a telephone news conference.
"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."
The study also found:
-- Blacks were twice as likely, and Hispanics were slightly less likely, as whites to die from preventable heart disease and stroke.
-- 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 were twice as likely as Hispanic women to die from preventable heart disease and stroke.
-- By state, preventable 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.
"One-of-3 U.S. deaths from cardiovascular disease is preventable and as a doctor I find this number heartbreaking," Frieden said.
"A large proportion of heart attacks can be prevented and millions of lives can be saved if the ABC's of heart health were followed: A is for aspirin if prescribed, B is for blood pressure control and C is for cholesterol management and tobacco cessation. Communities can provide safe places to walk, smoke free environments and access to healthy food."