Risk of Death Due to Heart Attack Has Fallen Considerably Over The Past 20 Years

Atherosclerosis leading to heart attack is one of the more amenable issues in aging to control through lifestyle choice and available medications. A very rigorous commitment to diet, exercise, and lowering LDL cholesterol will greatly reduce the odds of developing atherosclerotic plaque sufficient to produce heart attack or stroke. A combination of better treatment and better lifestyle choices has led to a sizable reduction in mortality due to heart attack in recent decades. Eliminating atherosclerosis entirely is going to require new developments in medical science, however, as lowering LDL cholesterol doesn't do much to help those people who have already developed significant atherosclerotic plaque.

New findings, based on an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1999-2020, indicate that age-adjusted rates of death attributed to acute myocardial infarction (the medical term for heart attack) fell by an average of over 4% per year across all racial groups over the two-decade period. "Researchers often highlight the bad news, but people should know that even if we're not there yet, we're making progress in the right direction. I think the reasons are multifactorial, spanning all the way from health-promoting and prevention activities through treatment during and after a heart attack."

Researchers found the overall rate of death from heart attack, adjusted for age, fell from about 87 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to about 38 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020. It is difficult to definitively determine whether the decline is the result of fewer heart attacks occurring or better rates of survival when they do occur because of new diagnostic strategies and treatment options, researchers said. For example, hospitals now frequently test for troponin in the blood when a heart attack is suspected, which can help clinicians diagnose a heart attack at an earlier stage than was possible with previous diagnostic strategies. This change has led to earlier and more sensitive heart attack detection but also makes it challenging to compare data on heart attacks over time.

On the prevention side, the public has become more aware of the need to reduce cardiovascular risk factors through steps such as quitting smoking and managing cholesterol. Clinicians also have a better understanding of the signs of a heart attack and improved tools to quickly diagnose and treat them when they occur. More hospitals are also equipped with mechanical support devices to assist with heart attack treatment and new medications such as potent antiplatelet drugs have become available, which may have improved survival rates and reduced the likelihood of a second heart attack.

Link: https://www.acc.org/About-ACC/Press-Releases/2023/02/22/21/30/Heart-Attack-Deaths-Drop-Over-Past-Two-Decades


I think you'll find that the 2021, 2022, and 2023 data will break this trend in a spectacular way, given the public health measures we've been through.

Posted by: Thomas Schaefer at March 2nd, 2023 7:54 AM

@Thomas Schaefer: I was going to write something very similar, but you've beaten me to it! Luckily some of us ignored such "healthcare" methods...

Posted by: Steven B at March 3rd, 2023 1:43 AM

Hi Reason, I came across a study showing that pomegranate juice consumption for a year led to a reduction of atherosclerosis in the carotid artery of up to 30 percent whereas the control group saw a worsening. Admittedly, it was a very small sample size but this seems quite impressive. Do you have any thoughts on this research?

Here is the study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15158307/

Posted by: Charlie P at March 3rd, 2023 4:16 AM

my first thought was they're prolly just dying of something else first.

life expectancy has been going down, even before the covid, so this would make sense.

Posted by: kent at March 9th, 2023 2:51 AM
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