An Increasing Number of Older Adults are Dying from Cardiovascular Disease

According to the American Heart Association (AHA) 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update, heart disease and stroke are the two top contributors for deaths worldwide. Although efforts have been made to reduce the rates of death from heart disease and stroke, the numbers are still very high. More than 800,000 American people died in 2013 due to cardiovascular diseases, including more than 370,000 deaths from heart disease and almost 129,000 from stroke. There are seven factors associated with cardiovascular health that people should be aware of: smoking, exercise, diet, body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

Smoking has the potential to take a major toll on cardiovascular health.  While cigarette smoking among US citizens has decreased by 30% since 1994, approximately 19% of men and 15% of women in America were smokers in 2014.

Exercise is well known to improve cardiovascular fitness. However, 1 in 3 adults in the US does not participate in physical activity outside work.

Diet has a significant influence on cardiovascular health. Improvements have been seen in the number of Americans maintaining a healthy diet—from 0.7% to 1.5% of adults between 2003 and 2004 and 2011 and 2012 and from 0.2% to 0.6% of children in the same time period.

Body weight has been an ongoing national issue in the US that is seriously affecting the rate of deaths due to poor cardiovascular health. Only 31% of American adults and 68% of children were not considered overweight or obese during 2009 to 2012.

Cholesterol levels are commonly high among the US population. Only 57% of Americans had healthy levels of cholesterol (up to 200 mg/dL) in 2009 to 2012.

Blood pressure is also a common problem in the US. Only 1 in 3 American adults had decent levels of cholesterol (up to 200 mg/dL) in 2009 to 2012.

In regards to blood sugar, about 1 in 10 American adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, while over one third have pre-diabetes.

The US is still trying to combat global epidemics related to cardiovascular disease that include obesity and diabetes. It is strongly advised that one maintains efforts to enhance cardiovascular health through changes in lifestyle, while also addressing the risk factors that include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.