The amount of people dying from heart attacks sharply declined since 1995

In the 1990s, having a heart attack was basically a death sentence for some 20 percent of the people who suffered one. By 2014, that number fell to just 12 percent. So what led to these significant declines in fatality rates for heart-attack patients? Much of it has to do with a concerted effort on the parts of three national organizations—the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association—to spearhead changes in treatment.

In the 1990s, the health care community established that aspirin and a class of drugs called beta-blockers (used to reduce blood pressure) were some of the best ways to improve chances of survival after a heart attack. Also over the last 30 years, coronary angioplasty has become more widely available. Physicians use this non-surgical procedure to open arteries that are clogged with a buildup of plaque, thus helping blood flow from the heart. It’s a highly effective way to decrease the risk of mortality, far more so than any medication alone. The researchers also credit lifestyle changes, such as more healthful dieting, for contributing to the decreases in heart-attack hospitalization and mortality rates.

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The amount of people dying from heart attacks sharply declined since 1995

In the 1990s, having a heart attack was basically a death sentence for some 20 percent of the people who suffered one. By 2014, that number fell to just 12 percent. So what led to these significant declines in fatality rates for heart-attack patients? Much of it has to do with a concerted effort on the parts of three national organizations—the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association—to spearhead changes in treatment.

In the 1990s, the health care community established that aspirin and a class of drugs called beta-blockers (used to reduce blood pressure) were some of the best ways to improve chances of survival after a heart attack. Also over the last 30 years, coronary angioplasty has become more widely available. Physicians use this non-surgical procedure to open arteries that are clogged with a buildup of plaque, thus helping blood flow from the heart. It’s a highly effective way to decrease the risk of mortality, far more so than any medication alone. The researchers also credit lifestyle changes, such as more healthful dieting, for contributing to the decreases in heart-attack hospitalization and mortality rates.

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