WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Coronary heart disease and stroke death rates in the United States dropped by about one-fourth in the past nine years, new data show.
Since 1999, the age-adjusted death rate for coronary heart disease dropped by 25.8 percent and for strokes the death rate fell by 24.4 percent, the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta showed.
The reduction in the death rates for coronary heart disease and stroke equates to about 160,000 lives saved in 2005 -- the most recent year for which data is available -- compared to the 1999 baseline data.
However, American Heart Association President Dr. Dan Jones said the victory could be short-lived if risk factors leading to heart disease and stroke don't also drop. If the current trends in risk factors are not improved, improvements in death rates could not continue.
Reasons given for the improved rates include control of blood pressure and cholesterol levels via lifestyle change and medications. In addition, a variety of strategies to reduce smoking in this country have made a difference, including tobacco excise taxes, clean indoor air legislation and smoking cessation efforts, Jones said.