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Heart Disease, Stroke Statistics 2017: Cardiovascular Disease Still Leading Cause Of Death, Reports AHA

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Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death among Americans. The number of adults who suffer from heart failure increased from 5.7 million between 2009 and 2012 to approximately 6.5 million between 2011 and 2014, and it is projected to rise by 46 percent by 2030.

According to the American Heart Association's (AHA) 2017 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update, more than 8 million adults will live with heart failure by 2030. The condition describes a heart that is too weak to pump blood through the body, as it normally should.

Cardiovascular Disease, Still Leading Cause Of Death

The update, published in the AHA journal Circulation, is a very commonly cited reference and has been published every year since 1958. It is written using the most recent data available from the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, the AHA as well as other government sources.

Among the causes of this alarming rise in heart failure can be attributed to medical advances. As modern medicine helps people survive heart attacks, it makes them more prone to developing another heart failure from the pre-existing heart ailment, according to Paul Muntner, Ph.D., a member of the statistical update's panel.

Additionally, the aging of the American population and other connected health problems are major contributing factors to this situation.

Among the most common risk factors documented by the update, smoking, physical inactivity, being overweight or obese, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes are the most dangerous triggers of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease includes high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and stroke. It remains the lead cause of death not just in the United States but worldwide as well. Heart disease ranks first in the United States and stroke is the fifth leading cause of death.

"Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease combined. About 92.1 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke. Direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke are estimated to total more than $316 billion; that includes both health expenditures and lost productivity," notes the update.

Cardiovascular disease, as an underlying cause of death, accounts for about 801,000 deaths in the United States, which is roughly a third of the total number of deaths. Approximately 2,200 people die of cardiovascular disease every day, once every 40 seconds.

"The epidemics of diabetes and obesity both contribute to the rising number of patients who acquire heart failure - our growing population of the elderly are particularly susceptible," noted Mariell Jessup, M.D., a heart failure expert and former president of the American Heart Association.

A Global Problem

As the first global cause of death, cardiovascular disease is responsible for more than 17.3 million deaths per year in 2013, being expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030. In 2013, deaths caused by cardiovascular disease represented 31 percent of all global deaths.

Approximately 80 percent of the cardiovascular disease deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries, almost equally among men and women.

"In particular, individuals who live in rural communities, have less education, have lower incomes, and are ethnic or racial minorities have an undue burden of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors," noted Emelia J. Benjamin, M.D., Sc.M., chair of the AHA Statistics Committee.

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