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Change in Mortality from Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Arkansas (1979 to 2007)

      Coronary heart disease (CHD)- and stroke-related mortality rates have been greater in the Southern states than in the rest of the United States. Although a sustained decrease in mortality from CHD and stroke has occurred in the United States during the past 3 decades, it is not known whether a similar decrease occurred in the Southern states. We examined CHD- and stroke-related deaths from 1979 to 2007 in Arkansas and observed a marked and steady decrease in both death rates. A concurrent increase occurred in the prevalence of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus, with a decrease in physical inactivity and poverty during this period. However, we noted a significant decrease in the per capita cigarette sales in Arkansas that closely paralleled the decrease in CHD- and stroke-related deaths. In conclusion, although the extensive use of cardioprotective drugs, as well as coronary revascularization, might have contributed to the decrease, we have provided evidence to suggest that the decrease in cigarette smoking was a very important factor in the decrease in CHD- and stroke-related mortality.
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