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Drop in Stroke, Heart Deaths Reported

Times Medical Writer

The death rates from coronary heart disease and stroke in the United States fell 27.9% and 40.2% respectively between 1976 and 1986, according to new American Heart Assn. statistics that officials say illustrate continuing progress against the country’s No. 1 killer.

Nevertheless, cardiovascular disease claimed about 978,500 lives in 1986, according to the annual report released Monday. That is about one life every 32 seconds and more than twice the 466,000 lives claimed by cancer, the second-leading cause of death, the association stated.

The report also said that about 66 million of the estimated 241 million Americans alive in 1986 had at least one form of cardiovascular disease. Many deaths from those conditions, which include heart attack and stroke, are considered preventable through changes in life style and diet.

Among the findings in the report:

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- The rate of total cardiovascular disease among Americans dropped nearly 20% between 1976 and 1986. As with coronary heart disease and stroke, the decline is traceable to new forms of therapy and medication as well as changes in eating and living habits.

- About 1.5 million Americans will suffer a heart attack in 1989. More than 500,000 of them will die, most before they reach a hospital. Studies suggest that 50% of heart attack victims wait more than two hours before going to an emergency room.

- Among adults, 38% of black men and 39% of black women have high blood pressure--compared to 33% of white men and 25% of white women. Elevated blood pressure, indicating that the heart is working harder, may contribute to heart attacks, strokes and atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.

- The heart association estimates that the cost of cardiovascular diseases in 1989 will be $88.2 billion. That figure includes $56.3 billion in hospital and nursing home care, $15 billion in lost productivity, $12.5 billion in physician and nursing services and $4.4 billion in medication.

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