CLEVELAND – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, claiming more than 600,000 lives each year.
Now, a new study shows that where a person lives might impact their heart disease risk.
The study, which looked at data between the years 1990-2016, found that despite declines in heart disease-related deaths during this time, improvements in life expectancy has been slowed for certain populations within the U.S.
Leslie Cho, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the study, but said differences between the level of heart disease risk from state to state were surprising.
“It is interesting that across the United States there is this incredible geographic discrepancy in health,” she said. “While Minnesota is the healthiest, states like Mississippi and Arkansas and the Gulf Coast states, reaching up towards West Virginia, don’t do as well as we hope that they would.”
States that saw the least amount of improvement were Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico and South Dakota.
The study also found that the number deaths from heart disease among women saw a slower decline than men over this time.
Researchers noted that about 80 percent of the heart disease risk could be attributed to lifestyle habits that are within our control.
Dr. Cho said we can all lower our heart disease risk by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, controlling our weight and leading an active lifestyle.
She also said it’s important for people to get regular checkups with their doctors in order to know their individual risk factors and their numbers.
“Knowing your numbers like blood pressure, your weight, your fasting glucose, your cholesterol, not smoking, not leading a sedentary life, having a healthy weight; these are really important and simple things we can do,” said Dr. Cho.
Dr. Cho said even though we’re making progress in the fight against heart disease, this study shows there is still more work to be done across the country when it comes to making necessary lifestyle changes to prevent it.
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