Cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death for Americans, men and women alike, for decades. But research published in June in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed a striking increase in risk for black men between ages 40 and 79. The study found that, in the period 2011 to 2014, 65 percent of them were at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years — compared with 54 percent for that age group during the period 1999 to 2002. Meanwhile, the study found that the comparable risk for white men rose from 44 to 48 percent in that period. And the proportion of women of that age facing the heart attack/stroke risk fell — from 15 to 11 percent among black women and from 10 to 5 percent among white women. To determine cardiovascular risk, the researchers used a statistical tool developed in 2013 by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, applying it to data gleaned from an annual survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers did not determine why people’s risk had increased or declined. To prevent cardiovascular disease (or heart disease, as it’s commonly called), aim to control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, do not smoke, limit alcohol consumption, get enough sleep and manage stress. Regular checkups also are advised.
— Linda Searing