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Once again, a medical research shows just how important is lifestyle in determining the health status. The American Heart Association released extraordinary news on Monday. After a large-scale study on Medicare patients, researchers found that in the period from 1999 to 2011, the rate of major heart related health problems decreased substantially.
Over 34 million patient records have been analyzed to reach the conclusions. Hospitalization rates and deaths following heart diseases, as well as strokes, decreased among the patients aged 65 or older. The heart disease hospitalization rates dropped by 30 to 40 percent for heart attack, as well as heart failure and stroke. No other health condition saw such a drastic improvement in the given timeframe.
Moreover, the hospitalization rate for unstable angina decreased by 83 percent. Compared to 1999, patients who suffered from unstable angina or heart attack faced a 23 percent decrease in the risk of dying in 2010. Patients who suffered a heart failure or stroke have a 13 percent lower risk of dying in the following year.
Heart transplant patients have another reason to be happy. Another recent research shows that carefully supervised high-intensity exercises provides them with important health benefits.
Heart disease hospitalization rate decreased without any major medical breakthroughs
There were no medical breakthroughs in the analyzed timeframe, so the improvement can only be explained by a combination between lifestyle factors and improved medical care, according to Harlan Krumholz, a researcher who is a professor of medicine at Yale University. Prevention seemed to have worked almost miraculously.
The hospitalization rates for the mentioned heart related conditions dropped for all races.
“There is still more work to do as heart disease and stroke combined remain the leading cause of death and disability, but this study documents astonishing progress and national achievement,” Krumholz said.
The authors mention a couple of main factors that influenced the decrease of hospitalization rates. One is the changes in lifestyle, mainly the decrease of smoking rates. Another factor is represented by time efficient care strategies. Blood pressure is under a stricter control than ever, as it is identified and treated more efficiently. In the same period, the drug class of statins saw a rapid rise as well. Overall, these are the main factors influencing the decrease of the heart disease hospitalization rate.
However, heart diseases are still the main cause of death among Americans. Around 600.000 people die each year because of heart related conditions, Livescience reminds us.