In 2010 around 200,070 people in the U.S. died needlessly from CVDs incl. hypertension.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. national public health institute, says in its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that in 2010, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke caused around 200,070 avoidable deaths in the U.S. — 56 percent of which occurred among people younger than 65 years of age.

The CDC says that as the leading cause of U.S. deaths, cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately 800,000 deaths a year among people younger than 75 years ― this includes deaths from hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Many of these were avoidable – meaning “deaths attributed to lack of preventive health care or timely and effective medical care.”

According to mortality data from the 2001-2010 Vital Statistics System, avoidable deaths were defined as those resulting from an underlying cause of heart disease, stroke, or hypertension in people younger than 75 years. Rates and trends by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and place of residence were also calculated. The overall age-standardized death rate was 60.7 per 100,000. Rates were highest in the 65–74 years age group, among males, among non-Hispanic blacks, and in the South. During 2001–2010, the overall rate did decline by 29 percent, and rates of decline varied by age.

The CDC concluded that nearly one fourth of all cardiovascular disease deaths are avoidable. These occurred disproportionately among non-Hispanic blacks and residents of the South, especially in Washington D.C., Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama. Rates were lowest in places like Colorado and California. While people younger than 65 also had lower rates, they still accounted for a considerable share of avoidable deaths and demonstrated less improvement.

Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director, said in a press briefing that as a doctor, he found it “heartbreaking to know that the vast majority of people who are having a heart attack or stroke under the age of 65 in particular and dying from it didn’t have to have that happen.”

He said that key factors in the findings include access to health insurance, preventative screenings and treatment; location; race and ethnicity; and sex. The overall rate of cardiovascular death in the U.S. is about 50 percent higher than many similar countries around the world. To improve the situation, Frieden recommends firstly, better management of blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Secondly, overall health needs to be improved by reducing smoking, increasing physical activity, and improving nutrition. Lastly, by “community level changes so we have healthier spaces, easier places to walk, more smoke-free places.”

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