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Heart disease fatality rates vary by location

In 1980, heart disease was responsible for an estimated 507 deaths for every 100,000 Americans. By 2015, that number had been trimmed to 253 deaths. The medical community has waged war on cardiovascular disease for 35 years, and in many respects they are winning. While the various forms of heart disease are still the number one cause of death, totaling 846,000 deaths in 2014 alone, the concerted effort has produced impressive results. Unfortunately, those results have not reached the public in a uniform manner.

Some regions do better than others

The Southeast United States are home to higher rates of cardiovascular illness, including hypertensive heart disease, hemorrhagic stroke and rheumatic heart disease. The lowest mortality rates can be found in areas of Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Virginia, Florida and around San Francisco. While statistics show that death rates vary significantly, they don't explain why some areas have seen little improvement and others have reduced deaths from heart disease dramatically.

Access to quality care

The knowledge of how to combat heart disease exists. The overall success in reducing these deaths shows that it is possible to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases. Since we know the knowledge exists, the question is why some people are not getting what they need to get or remain healthy. The situation is similar to rates of hospital acquired infections which remain a common problem in some facilities while others have all but eliminated them. When a hospital makes an effort to address the problem, the problem can be controlled or resolved. When hospitals ignore the problem, it remains or grows worse.

One of the key factors in successfully treating heart disease is to diagnose the condition in a timely manner. Failure to diagnose heart disease or a heart attack can be fatal. It can also be malpractice if the doctors fail to live up to the applicable standards of care. Only by holding doctors and hospitals accountable for their mistakes can we put pressure on them to update their practices and protect patient safety. The families of victims of misdiagnosed heart attacks and heart disease should speak to an attorney about pursuing a claim for damages.

Source: FiveThirtyEight, "The U.S. Has Made Huge Strides Against Heart Disease - But Not Everywhere," by Ella Koeze, 19 June 2017

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