Results of a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine bring positive news about the state of heart health in the United States. According to experts at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, rates of coronary heart disease seem to be on the decline.
Coronary heart disease—also known as atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease—is a buildup of plaque in the arteries around the heart, which can obstruct the flow of blood to the heart muscle and lead to permanent tissue damage. Currently, CHD is a leading cause of the death among men and women in the United States, but this new research shows we may be headed in a healthier direction.
After reviewing data from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers reported a notable decline in the overall prevalence of CHD (including symptoms of heart attack and chest pain) in adults 40 years and older: from 10.3% in 2001 to 8% in 2011-2012. Even more promising, adults 60 and over saw an even steeper drop in CHD rates over the same period—19.5% to 14.9%—and rates of CHD in women dropped from 8.5% to 6.2%.
Study authors believe the positive trend may be the result of several factors. Thanks to nationwide education and prevention efforts, people may be eating healthier and getting more exercise, both of which support heart health. There has also been a significant decline in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults.