Heart Disease Still the Leading Cause of Death in US

The number of Americans dying from cardiovascular disease is going down, but it's still the leading cause of death in the United States.

The American Heart Association reports that in 2004 -- the most recent year statistics that are available -- 42,000 fewer people died from cardiovascular disease than in 2003.

Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure and many other problems.

Even though the death rate is dropping, the heart association says risk factors -- like obesity, diabetes and smoking -- are holding steady or rising.

Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, the chair of the association's Statistics Committee says, "Cardiovascular disease remains, by far, our greatest public health challenge. Although we have made some substantial strides in understanding the causes of cardiovascular disease, the data in this publication show that we have a long way to go to capture people’s attention and to implement the prevention and treatment programs we need."