Emory University
Bookmark and Share

You have the power

Story Photo

Preventable risk factors, such as obesity and smoking, continue to account for half of all heart disease deaths, found Emory researchers.

A team led by Shivani Patel, a researcher in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Rollins School of Public Health, studied data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System national surveys from 2009 to 2010. The goal: to find out how much national cardiovascular mortality might decrease if all states reduced risk factor levels to target levels. The top five preventable risk factors for heart disease are elevated cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and smoking. The fraction of cardiovascular deaths that could have been prevented were reported under two scenarios: completely eliminating risk factors, and the more realistic goal of reducing risk factors to rival the best in the US.

The findings, published in the June 30 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that about half of deaths could be prevented if the modifiable risk factors were completely eliminated. About 10 percent of cardiovascular deaths could be prevented if all states were to achieve risk factor levels observed in the best-performing states. "All states could benefit from more aggressive policies and programs to help reduce risk of death from heart disease," Patel says.

Related Resources

"Half of all heart disease deaths could be prevented, study finds" (7/1/2015)

Email the editor