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Disease Prevention

Decrease In Heart Disease Deaths Seem To Result From Healthy Heart Campaigns

The number of heart disease deaths in American women is decreasing, according to The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. Data shows that the number of women who die from heart disease has shifted from 1 in 3 women to 1 in 4 — a decrease of nearly 17,000 deaths from 2003 to 2004.

"To see such a significant reduction in deaths underscores that the efforts of many individuals and organizations to raise awareness, improve treatment and access and inspire women to take action are truly saving lives," said Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of NHLBI.

NHLBI experts analyzed preliminary data for 2004, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis showed that the last few years in particular have seen a steady decline in the number of heart disease deaths in women—deaths have gone down in each of the five years from 2000 to 2004, a consecutive yearly decline which has not occurred before. Furthermore, in 2004, life expectancy at birth reached an all-time high for women: 80.4 years. "The steady decline in heart disease mortality has certainly contributed to this trend," Nabel said.

Also, significant progress has been made in increasing awareness among women that heart disease is their leading killer — up from 34 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2005.

"We are confident that recent advancements in the women and heart disease movement have helped to propel this change," Nabel said. "More women are aware that heart disease is their leading killer, and research shows that this heightened awareness is leading them to take action to reduce their risk. They are more likely to step up their physical activity, eat healthier and lose weight."

Although the number of heart disease deaths are decreasing, heart disease still continues to be the leading killer of women, Nabel said. Many women still do not take heart disease seriously or personally, and millions have one or more of the risk factors which can dramatically increase their risk of developing thecondition. And, heart disease remains more serious among women of color, according to the NHLBI.

For more information on The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, visit

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