March 13, 2019

Yale study: Heart attacks less frequent, deadly since 1990s

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed

Heart attack prevention and outcomes for American adults have improved dramatically over the past two decades, according to a Yale study published this week in JAMA Network Open.

Americans today are less likely to have heart attacks and less likely to die from them than in the mid-1990s, the researchers concluded in the study, billed as the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date.

Tracking more than four million Medicare patients between 1995 and 2014, the study found that hospitalizations for heart attacks have declined by 38 percent over the two decades studied, and the 30-day mortality rate for heart attacks is at an all-time low of 12 percent — down more than one-third since 1995.

The study's lead author, Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz, called the gains "remarkable."

Krumholz also believes the gains are no accident. The last two decades have been marked by national efforts to prevent heart attacks and improve care for those who suffer them.

Groups such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have focused public attention on reducing risk by promoting healthy lifestyles, addressing risk factors, and improving the quality of care, the Yale researchers noted.

"We are now at historic lows in the rates of heart attacks and deaths associated with heart attacks," Krumholz said. "However, this is no time to be complacent. We document extraordinary gains — but the effort is far from finished. The goal is to one day relegate heart attacks to the history of medicine."

Other authors of the study include Sharon-Lise T. Normand of Harvard and Yun Wang of Harvard and Yale.

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