About 25% of all deaths related to heart disease and stroke can be prevented by expanding prevention efforts and treatment options, according to a CDC study published Tuesday.
Specifically, federal researchers found that nearly 200,000 of the 800,000 annual U.S. deaths caused by heart disease and stroke can be prevented by:
- Quitting smoking;
- Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol; and
- Taking aspirin when a physician recommends doing so.
Study detects widespread disparities
The study also found that results were dependent on age, race, and state of residence. For example, Southern states typically had the highest rates of avoidable death. Some of the states with the lowest rates of avoidable death were Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Utah.
"It's unfortunate, but your longevity may be more likely to be influenced by your ZIP code than by your genetic code," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said at a press briefing.
Meanwhile, the study found that the avoidable-death rate among blacks was nearly twice that of whites, and about 60% of preventable deaths occurred in people under age 65. Further, men were more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable causes. Rates of avoidable deaths declined substantially among individuals ages 65 to 74.
The study's authors say the disparities most likely were the result of increased access to health insurance through Medicare, which begins at age 65. CDC officials also noted that certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act—like better access to treatment and preventive screenings—could help reduce avoidable deaths (Morin, Los Angeles Times, 9/3; Steenhuysen, Reuters, 9/3).