Ticker Trouble

May 8, 2006

While fewer patients are dying from heart attacks, they are still aleading killer that R.Ph.s can help control

At a glance

While fewer patients are dying from heart attacks, they are still a leading killer that R.Ph.s can help control

The war against heart attacks rages on. In spite of decades of research and billions of dollars of expenditures, heart attacks remain a leading cause of death in the United States today. Every year since 1900 (except 1918), cardiovascular disease-including heart attacks-has claimed more lives of men and women than any other disease. But while cardiovascular disease's No. 1 ranking as a cause of death hasn't changed, its battlefield has. Fewer people are dying. Preliminary data from the American Heart Association (AHA) suggest that between 1993 and 2003, the death rate for cardiovascular disease declined by 22.1%.

The attitude of those heart attack survivors is echoed by the ambivalence of our society toward heart disease. On the positive side, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Oct. 12, 2005) on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data reported cholesterol levels are steadily declining; age-adjusted mean total cholesterol levels of adults aged 20 to 74 years decreased from 222 between 1960 and 1962 to 203 between 1999 and 2002. A study presented at the AHA 2005 meeting in Dallas detailed a 30% decline in heart attacks in Pueblo, Colo., over a three-year period after a smoking ban in the bars.