CHICAGO -- About one in four U.S. deaths from heart disease could be avoided with better prevention efforts and treatment, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The first-of-its-kind report estimated that preventable deaths from heart disease in 2010 amounted to as many as 200,000 individuals who might have been spared an early death from a heart attack or stroke.
CDC officials said that the launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law in 2014, which is expected to provide better access to treatment for millions of uninsured Americans and routine coverage of preventive screenings, could help bring those numbers down.
“Beginning in October, the health insurance marketplaces will provide a new way for people to get health insurance so more patients have access to quality health insurance and coverage beginning as early as January 2014,” CDC Director Dr Tom Frieden said in a conference call with reporters.
Overall, the rate of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke - those that could have been avoided by treating high blood pressure and cholesterol and by discouraging smoking - fell nearly 30 percent between 2001 and 2010.
But there were widespread differences in rates by age, location, race and gender.
“While those who are age 65 to 74 still have the greatest rate of heart attack and stroke, more than half of the preventable deaths - about 6 in 10 - happen in people under the age of 65,” Frieden said.
Frieden said preventable deaths declined much faster in people aged 65 to 74, which “may well be because they have access to health insurance through their Medicare coverage,” the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly 800,000 deaths a year, or about 30 percent of all U.S. deaths.
The report looked at preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke defined as those that occurred in people under age 75 that could have been prevented by more effective public health measures, lifestyle changes or medical care.
It found that the state in which a person lives plays a major role in the rate of avoidable deaths from heart disease. This rate ranged from 36.3 deaths per 100,000 population in Minnesota to 99.6 deaths per 100,000 in the District of Columbia.
By U.S. county, the highest rates of avoidable deaths in 2010 were mostly in southern Appalachian region and much of Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
The lowest rates of such deaths were in the West, Midwest, and Northeastern regions of the United States.
Men were more than twice as likely as women to die from heart disease and strokes that could have been prevented by treating high blood pressure and cholesterol and through smoking prevention efforts. The rate of such deaths for U.S. men in 2010 was 83.7 per 100,000 in 2010 compared with 39.6 per 100,000 for women.
The report found blacks were twice as likely as whites to die from preventable heart disease and strokes. In 2010, the rate of avoidable deaths from heart disease and stroke in black men was about 80 percent higher than that of white males and black females.