Authors: Thomas J. Thom, William B. Kannel, Halit Silbershatz, Ralph B. D'Agostino, Sr.
The large and long-term decline in mortality from the cardiovascular diseases accounted for almost 4 of the 5.6-year increase in life expectancy in the United States attained between 1965 and 1995.1 The 55 percent decline in the age-corrected death rate for total cardiovascular disease between 1950 and 1996 indicates the extent to which these leading causes of death are subject to preventive and therapeutic measures. These diseases, however, still account for 41 percent of all deaths and are leading causes of morbidity and health care utilization. Control of these diseases should focus on prevention because of its inherent benefits, its apparent role in the mortality reductions, and its potential given the presence of modifiable risk factors in millions of Americans.
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