Editorial |

Combating the Epidemic of Heart Disease

Daniel Levy, MD
JAMA. 2012;308(24):2624-2625. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.164971.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


At the beginning of the 20th century, the 3 leading causes of death in the United States were infectious diseases—pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea—which in combination claimed 539 lives per 100 000.1 Lurking in the background as the fourth leading cause of death was heart disease (137 deaths per 100 000). But this would change. With life expectancy of only 47 years at the beginning of the century, people did not live long enough for heart disease to claim many lives. Without a means for accurate diagnosis, many deaths from heart disease went unrecognized. With the advent of the electrocardiogram to facilitate the diagnosis of heart disease, antibiotics to treat infectious diseases, and increasing life expectancy, the number and proportion of deaths due to heart disease soared. During the Great Depression, the number of deaths due to heart disease was twice that of the next leading cause of death (pneumonia). In 1945, at the time of President Roosevelt's fatal brain hemorrhage due to decades of uncontrolled hypertension, heart disease accounted for more deaths in the United States than the next 3 causes combined. Deaths due to heart disease peaked in 1968 at 374 per 100 000.

Sign In to Access Full Content

Don't have Access?

Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more

Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features

Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)

Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview




Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Sign In to Access Full Content

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

See Also...
Articles Related By Topic
Related Topics
PubMed Articles