Monday, August 30, 2010

Heart Disease by the Numbers

Take a look at that graph.  We are now dying less from cardiovascular disease since levels in the 1950s. That is great news.  The question is why?  Is it because a change in diet is preventing cardiovascular disease and heart disease?  If it prevented heart disease from happening, then I would say yes, a change in the American diet would deserve some credit.  Let's explore this further.

Hospitalization Rates for Heart Failure, Ages 45–64 and 65 and Older, U.S., 1971–2005

This is a National Institute of Health chart that still shows an upward trend for hospitalizations associated with heart failure.  So logically one could surmise that although people are dying less from heart disease they are still getting heart disease at an increased rate.  Hmmm maybe there is more to this.

As we can also see in this graph, heart attack rates continue to climb but death from heart attack continues to drop.  What we can also see is that Angioplasty rose from 0 in 1980 to very high numbers in 1999.  Bypass surgery also became more common.  The advent of these procedures correlates pretty strongly with the dip in heart disease deaths seen on the first graph of this post.

It should be obvious that despite a shift away from saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet that we haven't prevented heart disease.  It is medical technology that has allowed us to better prevent deaths from heart disease.  


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