Heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in the United States for both men and women. Because of this, it’s important to keep track of risk factors and mitigate them whenever possible. A new study finds that, as a society, we are moving in a positive direction on that front. Over a recent 20-year period, risk factors for heart attack and stroke were reduced dramatically by older Americans.
The study examined national data on adults aged 40 and up from 1990 to 2010. They assessed many heart attack risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and body mass index.
The study concluded that the average number of risk factors decreased among both men and women. The biggest improvement was seen by the above 60 demographics. Cholesterol levels saw the greatest reduction with over 96% of men now having controlled cholesterol vs just 63% in 1990. Women are up to 88% from 65%.
Researchers and medical professionals believe that we may have reached a plateau in this regard. Certain risks factors have fallen dramatically, but we are seeing an increase in others, such as obesity. The next focus of cardiovascular health should be on lifestyle changes. These would include healthier diets and increased exercise.
Sources: Eileen Crimmins, Ph.D., professor, gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Rachel Bond, M.D., associate director, women’s heart health, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Byron Lee, M.D., professor, medicine, director, electrophysiology laboratories and clinics, University of California, San Francisco; March 22, 2018, Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, online