Heart disease, stroke costly despite fewer deaths

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Heart rate

Deaths from stroke and heart disease have declined, but according to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2011 Update, costs and risk factors for each remain high.

Stroke and heart disease account for the highest expenditures than any other diagnosis from lost productivity and direct costs.

Véronique L Roger, M.D., M.P.H., who wrote the report says, “The mortality rate going down is good news; however, the fact that the burden of disease is so high indicates that we may have won a battle against mortality but have not won the war against heart disease and stroke."

Dr. Roger who is professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and chair of health sciences research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota says though there are fewer deaths associated with stroke and heart disease, the prevalence of both remains high, making prevention strategies more important than ever.


Stroke deaths have declined in particular because of interventions that help prolong life, but preventing heart disease and stroke in the first place has become a goal over the next decade.

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke include the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity that has increased from 4 to 20 percent in the past 30 years, cigarette smoking, failure to prevent and control existing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, adult obesity and diabetes and pre-diabetes.

According to American Heart Association statistics, 80 percent of Americans are unaware they have high blood pressure and less than half have the condition under control. When it comes to adult obesity, statistics show 67 percent of adults are overweight.

Roger says, “To achieve improvements in cardiovascular health, all segments of the population will need to focus on improved cardiovascular health behaviors, particularly with regard to diet and weight, as well as increasing physical activity and further reducing the prevalence of smoking.” The AHA also recognizes the role of genes as a risk for cardiovascular disease that will also be further explored as part of their prevention goals.

The new report shows the societal burden of cardiovascular disease remains high. The goal of the American Heart Association is to improve the heart health of Americans by 20 percent and reduce deaths from stroke and heart disease 20 percent by the year 2020. Source: American Heart Association Newsroom