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Deaths From Heart Disease Down, but Not First Attacks

September 24, 1998

Fewer Americans are dying each year from heart disease, but the number of people suffering first heart attacks has held steady or even increased since 1987, according to a report in today's New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers said the reason is that treatment is outstripping prevention.

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing 481,458 people in 1994, according to the government. The new study by University of North Carolina epidemiologist Wayne Rosamond and his colleagues found that deaths fell 28% among men and 31% among women from 1987 to 1994. Over the same period, however, the number of black women hospitalized with first heart attacks rose 7% per year. The numbers stayed stable among black men and whites.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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