The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report fewer Americans are suffering heart attacks.
Fox News cited a CDC report that heart attack rates fell 6 percent in 2010 and 6.7 percent in 2006.
Dr. Bradley McElroy, a cardiologist at Western Baptist Hospital, said in 20 years of practice in Paducah, local trends seem to reflect the decline.
“I mostly attribute it to statins, which are cholesterol-lowering medications,” McElroy said. “They’ve had the biggest impact reducing death and morbidity from coronary artery disease.”
According to Fox News, cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC. It kills more people than cancer, lower respiratory diseases and accidents combined.
McElroy said greater focus on lifestyle-related risk factors like diet, exercise and smoking cessation have not been as effective in combating heart disease as drugs and medical procedures.
“I encourage patients to eat a Mediterranean-style diet, with fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, lots of seafood, some chicken and very little beef, pork or dairy,” McElroy said. “But people often point out this is not the Western Kentucky way. They usually say it is an interesting idea, but they probably won’t do it.”
Other areas of focus potentially leading to lower rates of morbidity and mortality from heart disease include smoking cessation and exercise. McElroy said he still sees too many patients smoking, though education and counseling have reduced the number somewhat.
“Kentucky still has one of the highest percentages of smokers, and that may be a reason we haven’t seen as good of a reduction in coronary artery disease as some other states,” McElroy said.
McElroy also encourages everyone to take at least one hour of exercise per day six times per week. Even with diet, exercise and smoking, genetics still play the biggest factor with coronary artery disease.
“The reason we’ve seen life expectancy increase from 68 to 80 in the last 40 years is unfortunately not lifestyle,” McElroy said. “It’s the medicines and procedures we have available.”