Why Do More People Die of Heart Disease Now Than Before 1900?

The top killer of both men and women within the United States is heart disease. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), around one out of every four Americans dies from heart disease annually. In total, this means around 610,000 people die annually from it. Additionally, 753,000 people suffer a heart attack each year. This leads people to wonder the reasons why more people die of heart disease now than before 1900. Some people assume this has always been the case while others figure that something about the modern lifestyle causes it.

Why Do More People Die of Heart Disease Now Than Before 1900?

Experts believe that the main reason for the change in the frequency of heart disease is diet. In pre-industrial societies, the typical person would eat more natural foods such as unprocessed dairy and whole grains. When machines arrived, they encouraged us to make richer foods that are harder on the heart.

Processed dairy products, burgers, and fries in particular have grown more popular. Part of this popularity is due to the short amount of time required for preparation. As fast food became more convenient and widely accepted, the reate of heart disease increased.

Heart Disease During the Medieval Times

Based on research, we know that in Medieval Times, the English people suffered from heart disease along with other cholesterol-related illnesses. Those in Britain at this time had infrequent heart disease along with deaths. Experts believe that the quick answer to why do more people die of heart disease now than before 1900, particularly related to the Medieval English, is diet. We used to eat natural food with enough protein and without excessive amounts of carbohydrates or harmful fatty compounds.

Heart Disease After the Industrialization

Even in other pre-industrial societies, evidence shows that heart disease and deaths related to heart problems were rare. Following the industrial revolution in the 19th century, the number of deaths due to heart disease increased.

Health experts believe this is because the modern technological age allows for a more sedentary and relaxed lifestyle. In the past, people did manual labor to earn a living, using up any extra fatty deposits within the body. Manual labor also provided regular vigorous physical activity to ensure high blood circulation.

What Cause Heart Disease?

Heart disease occurs when the blood vessels and arteries leading to the heart become blocked or can’t carry blood correctly. This means that oxygen and other nutrients aren’t able to reach the heart. The blockage can occur because of things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. High cholesterol generates plaque, a waxy substance in the blood vessels that slows the ability of nutrients to get to the heart. Nicotine narrows blood vessels and limits oxygen received by the heart.

How to Prevent Heart Disease

Now that you know "why do more people die of heart disease now than before 1900", you can learn about how to prevent this disease.

1. Quit Smoking

Smoking is a huge risk factor of heart disease. Quit smoking to reduce your risk.

2. Measure Your Blood Pressure

Try to keep track of your blood pressure, measuring it at least every other year. Take action if it is too high. 

3. Check Your Cholesterol

While in your 20s, ask your doctor to do a baseline cholesterol test and repeat it every 5 years or more frequently. You will want to aim for lower cholesterol numbers if you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors.

4. Control Diabetes

If you are diabetic, control your blood sugar levels to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

5. Do Exercises

Exercising is the ideal way to maintain your healthy body weight and help control diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol. Since each of these is a risk factor for heart disease, it is a good idea to do 30 or 60 minutes physical activities most days.

6. Eat Healthy

Since the short answer to "why do more people die of heart disease now than before 1900" is diet, how you eat can reduce your risk. Eat a diet with lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and little added sugar, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

7. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Those who are overweight have a higher risk of developing heart disease. Reduce your risk by aiming for a healthy BMI and waist circumference.

8. Reduce Stress

Do whatever you can to reduce stress, such as muscle relaxation or deep breathing.

9. Manage Depression

Depression can increase the risk of developing heart disease so consult a psychological therapist to treat this condition.

10. Have Regular Checkups

Regular checkups about your heart function, blood pressure and cholesterol levels detect problems early so you can take action right away.

Other Leading Causes of Death in the US

In addition to heart disease, here are some other leading causes of death within the United Sates.

1. Cancer

Cancer causes about 584,881 deaths annually and affects people regardless of age, race, ethnicity, and gender. Cancer involves uncontrolled spread and growth of abnormal cells.

2. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease

Chronic lower respiratory disease, or CLRD, is a group of lung diseases which block airflow and lead to breathing-related issues. It can cause primary chronic obstruction pulmonary disease, asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.

3. Accidents

Accidents or unintentional injuries are also a common cause of death. These include motor vehicle accidents and accidents with other land, water, air, or space transports as well as accidentally discharging a firearm, falling, drowning, being exposed to flames, fire, or smoke, and poisoning. 

4. Stroke

Strokes are one type of cerebrovascular disease that affects the blood vessels which supply the brain. Other common types of this disease include subarachnoid hemorrhage, transient ischemic attack, and vascular dementia.

5. Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia, meaning it affects cognitive abilities and memory. In the case of Alzheimer’s, neuron damage and death limits the ability to swallow, walk, or do other normal activities.

6. Diabetes

With diabetes, the body can’t control blood glucose anymore, causing high quantities. If this continues to occur, it can lead to damage to the eye tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. If left untreated, diabetes can cause heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, or the need for amputation.

7. Influenza and Pneumonia

Influenza is highly contagious. It can also involve pneumonia, which is a serious condition involving lung inflammation. In severe cases, pneumonia prevents oxygen from getting into the bloodstream, causing death.

8. Kidney Disease

Various types of kidney disease, including nephrosis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephritis are issues. Chronic kidney disease occurs if the kidneys are damaged so cannot filter blood as well, leading to other issues.

9. Suicide

Suicide or self-harm accounts for about 41,000 deaths annually and more people than this attempt suicide each year. 

 
 
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