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Heart-disease rate is falling in Minnesota (and much of U.S.)

Minnesotans’ heart-disease rate fell from 5.4 percent in 2006 to 4.9 percent in 2010 — a 9.3 percent drop.

There’s some good news on the heart-disease front.

The rate at which Americans are developing heart disease is falling. In 2006, some 6.7 percent of Americans had been diagnosed with heart disease.

Age-adjusted prevalence of coronary heart disease among adults

In 2010, that number had dropped to 6.0 percent, according to a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late last week.

Minnesota’s numbers look good, too. Our heart-disease rate fell from 5.4 percent in 2006 to 4.9 percent in 2010 — a 9.3 percent drop.

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That’s not as impressive as, say, West Virginia’s drop of 23.1 percent or even the 14 percent drop (from 5.7 percent to 4.9 percent) of our next-door neighbor, Wisconsin. But we certainly have bragging rights over states like Maine, which saw a 14.3 percent increase in its heart-disease rate. (Overall, though, Southern states continue to have the highest incidence of heart disease.)

As an editorial note that accompanies the CDC report notes, the death rate from heart disease is also on the decline. That should mean that more people are living with heart disease. But this latest study found a decrease in the prevalence of heart disease in the United States, not an increase — a finding that suggests that fewer individuals are developing the disease.

The CDC cites better control of risk factors (like high blood pressure and smoking) and better treatments as the possible reasons behind the continuing decline in the heart-disease rate.

But we can’t become complacent. Heart disease still remains the biggest cause of premature deaths in the United States, killing more than 630,000 people annually.

Other findings
Here are some other interesting findings from the CDC study:

  • Men are more likely to have heart disease (7.8 percent) than women (4.6 percent).
  • The less education someone has, the greater the chances of having heart disease. Some 9.2 percent of people without a high-school education reported having heart disease, compared with 4.6 percent of those with more than an undergraduate college degree.
  • Race and ethnicity are factors as well. The greatest declines in heart disease were among Caucasian people, from 6.4 percent in 2006 to 5.8 percent in 2010. Hispanic Americans also experienced a significant drop, from 6.9 percent to 6.1 percent. The rate of heart disease increased, however, among blacks, from 6.4 percent to 6.5 percent. And American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest rate of heart disease: 11.6 percent.

The study has several limitations. Its statistics were compiled from the results of a telephone survey. That survey had only a 53 percent response rate; those people who refused to participate may have been less healthy than those who answered the questions. It also only involved people with land lines, a factor that may have also skewed the results to people who are either more or less healthy than their peers. Furthermore, the survey did not involve people who lived in nursing homes or other institutions.

Still, this report is welcomed news for the U.S. — and Minnesota — especially when coupled with another finding published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found a 30 percent decline in hospital admissions over the past decade among Medicare recipients.

The CDC study appears in the October 14 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).