Statistics Show Heart Disease Stalling Among Young Adults

By: Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC Medical Correspondent
By: Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC Medical Correspondent

Progress in decreasing death rates from heart disease has stalled among young adults in the United States.

Researchers are calling the statistics a wake-up call to all younger Americans.

The past three decades have brought much progress in fighting heart disease in the United States.

A new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a dramatic 59-percent drop in heart disease deaths for men and a 49-percent drop for women from 1980 through 2002.

Researchers credit the decrease to a decline in smoking, overall lower cholesterol levels and the development of new technologies and medicines used to treat heart problems.

But among younger adults, progress has recently slowed to a halt.

Doctors found that for adults aged 35 to 54, heart disease deaths dropped by rate of five to six-percent during the 1980s and one to two-percent in the 1990s.

However, at the turn of this century, heart disease deaths in younger men hardly decreased at all, and the rate in women actually increased around one percent.

The authors say that widespread obesity and lack of exercise are now threatening to reverse earlier gains against heart disease, which remains America's number one killer.

Diseases of the heart accounted for 23-percent of all deaths in Kentucky in 2003.

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States.

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