Despite substantial reductions in cardiovascular disease (CVD) death rates since 1968, CVD remains by far the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Cardiovascular disease annually accounts for more than 800 000 deaths and more than 7 million hospital discharges and chronically affects more than 80 million US adults.1 The projected health care cost of CVD in 2010 is $0.5 trillion.1 Even though CVD death rates have recently leveled off among younger adults (35-54 years),2 the overall future CVD burden is predicted to further increase as a result of the US population's aging and the increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes.
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