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Heart Disease and Stroke: Substantial Decrease in Hospitalizations
- Updated: August 19, 2014
Two major studies have reported significant drops in the number of hospitalizations for both heart disease and stroke. After studying nearly 34 million Medicare recipients in one case, it was noted the number of hospitalizations specific to heart disease and stroke dropped by approximately one-third.
A second study in Circulation found from 1999 to 2011, heart attacks decreased by 38% and strokes related to blood clots by 34%.
Other findings included a 31% decline in heart failure hospitalizations and 84% for unstable angina.
Not only was there decline specific to hospitalizations but a fewer number of people died after being released from the hospital. In addition, the degree of risk for dying within one year of getting out of the hospital dropped by 13% for those who suffered heart failure and stroke, 23% for heart attack, and 21% for unstable angina.
Obviously, this is tremendous progress according to Harlan Krumholz, author and director of Connecticut’s Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation. In addition to lives being saved, there is a lot less suffering and money spent.
Even with such impressive numbers, there is no single breakthrough responsible according to leading medical professionals. Typically, there is a link with marked improvements in health and new vaccines or medications but not in this case. However, experts agree that even though there is no obvious reason for such remarkable improvements, something must have changed.
One possible answer is that for the past decade, medical doctors and organizations have worked harder than ever before to share information and knowledge but also, there is greater focus on providing patients with exceptional, fast, and consistent care. For instance, by identifying a problem with high blood pressure and providing proper treatment, the number of heart attacks has gone down.
While much of the credit falls back on the healthcare industry, Americans also deserve props for doing more today than any other time in history to prevent heart disease. As an example, people are kicking the smoking habit. As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of adults who smoke dropped by 23.5% in 2011. Americans are also taking prescription medication to lower bad cholesterol levels, which also reduces risk of heart disease.
By looking at statistics, it becomes clear that whatever doctors and patients are doing works but efforts must continue. After all, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, with close to 597,000 deaths just in the year 2013. Not only is it possible to prevent heart-related problems in people with good health, those in poor health but yet too young to be Medicare recipients, also have options for reversing trends.
One particular concern of Director Suzanne Steinbaum at the Heart and Vascular Institute at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital is the increasing rate of obesity, as well as diabetes caused from excessive weight. There is also concern with heart attack rates among younger women, particularly those of African American descent. Steinbaum goes on to say that while the outcome for people living with cardiovascular disease can be changed, it is critical that efforts start with the country’s youth.