The number of Americans dying of heart disease increased last year for the first time in more than a decade, delivering a wake-up call to the medical and scientific communities. After nearly 40 years of victories in the battle against heart disease — from the development of medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol to the public campaign against smoking — heart health experts are now facing a stark truth: Progress has stalled.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in America, responsible for about 1 in every 4 deaths. New data released by the National Center for Health Statistics shows it took more than 633,000 lives in 2015. That's a 0.9 percent increase over the previous year, helping to drive up the overall death rate in the United States for the first time since 1999. Other contributors to increased mortality include stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and kidney disease.