Nearly half of all adults in the United States have some type of cardiovascular disease — defined as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke or high blood pressure — according to the American Heart Association.
And after decades of declines, deaths from cardiovascular disease are on the rise again, with just under 841,000 deaths recorded in 2016, up from about 836,500 in 2015, according to the association’s annual report Heart and Stroke Statistics, published Thursday in the medical journal Circulation, CNN reported.
“Cardiovascular disease produces immense health and economic burdens in the United States and globally,” the authors of the study wrote.
Part of the reason the rise in the total number — 48% or about 121.5 million adults — has been so severe is because of the new way high blood pressure is defined. Hypertension guidelines were updated so that people whose blood pressure is 130/80 or above are now considered “hypertensive,” Previously, the definition was 140/90.
The new report is a “painful reminder” that heart disease is still the No. 1 cause of death and disease in the nation, chief of cardiology medicine and executive director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Dr. David Zhao, told CNN.
“Overall, we have made a lot of progress,” said Zhao, who was not involved in the report. Still, “we have not yet made substantial advancement in obesity, diabetes, and unhealthy behavior,” which includes smoking, not exercising, poor diet and being overweight.
About 8 of every 10 cases of cardiovascular disease can be prevented by controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, according to the heart association.