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America's heart disease epidemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are increasingly dying of heart disease and strokes as they hit middle age — and the trend is happening across the country, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of mortality rates.

Why it matters: It suggests "that the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease are universal and difficult to address," the Journal found.

  • While the South has traditionally seen higher rates of deaths from cardiovascular disease, the spike is occurring in some of the healthiest places in the country — even outdoorsy Colorado.
  • Three metro areas in the state saw their cardiovascular death rates spike 25% from 2010–11 to 2015–16 despite "robust access to exercise and health care."
  • "Like much of America, the region is undergoing changes that foster more stress and sedentary lifestyles."

By the numbers: 18% of American kids and roughly 40% of adults are now obese, according to CDC data released last year.

  • More obese children means there will be more adults with chronic conditions like diabetes — which can’t be cured, only managed — and these diseases increase the risk of further complications, per Axios' Sam Baker.

The bottom line, via Axios' Caitlin Owens: Our health care system incentivizes caring for sick people, not keeping people healthy.

Go deeper: The urban-rural health divide is costing lives