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Death rates in the United States from heart disease and stroke are in the biggest and fastest decline ever recorded. A staggering 160,000 lives have been saved in just six years.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that deaths in the United States from heart disease and stroke are down about 25 percent since 1999.
"We knew we were making incremental progress, but the magnitude of the change we see here is really surprising," Dr. Dan Jones of the American Heart Association said.
Doctors say more Americans are surviving heart disease and strokes because of innovative treatments such as angioplasty, stents and clot-busting drugs -- all working to keep blood flowing to the heart and brain.
There's also been progress in prevention, which is keeping arteries from clogging in the first place.
With the help of medications, the number of Americans with uncontrolled high blood pressure is down 16 percent since 1999.
And with greater use of statin drugs, the number of people with high cholesterol has fallen 19 percent.
Finally, smoking, which wreaks havoc on arteries, is down 15 percent.
The news from the report is not all good. Rates for obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise, showing up in Americans at ever younger ages and threatening to undo the impressive gains reported today.
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