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Cardiovascular Disease Kills One-Third of Americans

New statistics show that prevalence varies by region

THURSDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiovascular disease accounted for more than one-third of U.S. deaths in 2004, with prevalence varying by region, according to the American Heart Association's Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics - 2007 Update, published online Dec. 28 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The data show that the burden from cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart disease, stroke, hypertension, heart failure and congenital defects, varies nationwide. Mississippi had the highest rate of deaths from CVD (405.9 per 100,000) while Minnesota has the lowest (221.2 per 100,000).

Between 1994 and 2004, the rate of deaths from stroke fell by 20.1 percent and the actual number of stroke deaths fell by 2.1 percent. This also varied by region, with a higher prevalence of strokes in 10 southeastern states. In 2005, 25.5 percent of respondents reported having hypertension.

The report notes that obesity reduces life expectancy, with overweight and obese 40-year-old non-smokers losing three to seven years. Obesity is also increasing among children, ranging from 14 to 17.5 percent, and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome is rising, affecting 23.7 percent of adults and 4.2 percent of adolescents. Meanwhile, diabetes is on the rise, the report indicates, with 1.5 million new cases diagnosed in adults in 2005. And while children are exposed to less secondhand smoke, smoking continues to reduce life expectancy in adults.

"There's still room for improvement," chair of the AHA Statistics Committee Wayne Rosamond, Ph.D., noted in a statement. "Changes in lifestyle behaviors such as healthy diet and exercise could reduce the burden of CVD."

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