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Who’s Dying Young in U.S. From Heart Attacks?



Fewer Americans are dying prematurely from heart attack compared with years ago, but progress has stalled out in the past decade, new research shows.

For the study, the researchers examined 20 years of data on heart attack deaths among Americans under 65 — deaths that are considered “premature.”

The bigger picture looked good: Between 1999 and 2019, those deaths declined by 52%.

However, after a decade of fairly rapid decline, that progress slowed down after 2011: Up until then, premature heart attack deaths had dropped by 4.3% per year, on average. After 2011, that decelerated to 2.1% per year.

And inside that overarching trend, the study found, certain groups of Americans were at particular risk of dying young from a heart attack.

Black Americans had higher death rates than their white counterparts, while people living in rural areas died at a higher rate than urban dwellers.

The findings were published Dec. 22 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The solution is not simply a matter of telling Americans to eat better and exercise, according to researcher Dr. Safi Khan, a cardiology fellow at the DeBakey Heart and Vascular Institute at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Traditional risk factors for heart attack, like high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, certainly matter — but so do the “social determinants of health,” Khan said.

Broadly, that refers to the conditions of people’s lives that affect their physical and mental health — such as education and job opportunities, and access to stable housing, nutritious food and health care. If a family is struggling to pay the bills, for example, a healthy diet is easier said than done; if they have no safe spaces for exercise, it’s hard to be physically active.

So “systemic efforts,” Khan said, are needed to address premature deaths from heart attack, including the racial and regional disparities seen in the study.

Dr. Connie Tsao, a cardiologist who was not involved in the study, agreed that those wider social factors are critical.

She noted that in the last decade, there has been a “concerning rise” in obesity and diabetes in the United States and globally. And “widening gaps” in social determinants of health likely play a big role, said Tsao, who chairs the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee.

“This study and others highlight that there is so much work to be done on a national level to improve cardiovascular health equity,” Tsao said.

For the study, Khan’s team analyzed death certificate data from a federal database for the years 1999 to 2019.

Overall, premature deaths from heart attack fell over time — from just over 20 per 100,000 Americans under 65 years of age in 1999, to 10 per 100,000 in 2019.

The gap between Black and white Americans narrowed over time, but death rates remained higher among Black adults. Meanwhile, the decline in deaths slowed after 2011 in both groups, as well as in Hispanic adults — whose rate of premature death was lower, versus both their white and Black counterparts.

Similarly, while premature deaths dipped over time in rural counties, the rate remained substantially higher compared to urban areas. And after 2011, the rate of decline slowed in both cities and rural areas.

“Innovations have been made, and therapies have improved,” Khan said.

But now, he said, there needs to be a focus on helping young people maintain good cardiovascular health from early life, and preventing risk factors for heart disease from developing in the first place.

Tsao said young people need to be aware that what they do now affects their heart health down the road.

“It’s important for young people to remember that the accumulation of cardiovascular risk factor burden occurs over years and is rooted in daily habits and activities,” she said. “It’s also critical for parents and caregivers to instill healthy behaviors in children early in life.”

More information

The American Heart Association has advice on following a heart-healthy lifestyle.

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In Greece, Unvaccinated People Ages 60 and up Now Face Monthly Fines



The nation imposed the new mandate on Monday as it looks to bring its vaccination rate closer in line with the EU average. The unvaccinated will face penalties starting at 50 euros, or roughly $57.

(Image credit: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

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Drones Over Nuclear Power Plants Attract Attention From Spy Agency



Sweden’s domestic intelligence service is looking into drones spotted hovering near three nuclear power plants last week

The Swedish Security Service confirmed on Monday it was leading an investigation into drones seen near the nation’s three nuclear power plants, amid concerns the country isn’t prepared for the threat of the aerial devices.

Sweden’s police force was initially tasked with p


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Chance of Another Round of Winter Weather in Central NC by the End of the Week



RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Yes, central North Carolina has a chance for snow by the end of the week. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s take a moment to talk about where a low-pressure system needs to be for us to get snow.

Imagine you take an area of low pressure and slice it up into four parts. The two parts on the eastern side are warmer. It’s here where we are more likely to get rain or a mix of rain and snow.

Power outages still in the thousands in central NC amid winter storm

The two parts on the western side are the cold side. It’s here where we have the best chance for snow, especially if we fall in the top left part of the low (meteorologists call it the northwest quadrant).

I bring this up because a slight shift either to the west or east has a big impact on not only what kind of wintry weather we’ll have, but also how much.

So, about this weekend. Yes, the chance for snow is once again returning to the forecast, but because the location of the low pressure is still largely unknown, it’s tricky to nail down exactly how much snow we could see, or if we get another round of mixed precipitation like this past weekend.

Another wrinkle in this next potential round for winter weather is the cold front. A strong cold front will slide through Thursday, bringing downright frigid air for central North Carolina. While this can sometimes create snow for us, it’s not always the best setup for significant, winter wonderland snow.

But in addition to the cold front, an area of low pressure is expected to develop along that cold front and slide north. Models are not in agreement with timing or amounts because of these small-scale factors.

This is why winter weather in central North Carolina is often tricky and seems like it changes every day. It’s variable and very dependent on small-scale changes.

So, we may be talking about another chance for snow by the end of the week. If it’s only tied to cold air behind the front, the totals will be low. If low pressure develops and slides off our coast, we could have decent snow totals or even another round of a wintry mix.

It’s too early to say exactly, so we’ll keep tracking it for you here on CBS 17.

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