Despite awareness nationwide, heart disease is projected to increase

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

It’s no secret that heart disease is one of the top killers in the United States, but despite people becoming more aware of the disease, rates are projected to increase.

Over 600,000 people die of heart disease every year, which is 1 in 4 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, coronary heart disease states that the disease increases for both men and women after the age of fifty-five. Dr. Jose Teixeira, a cardiologist at Rapid City Regional Hospital, says plaque begins to accumulate in the arteries as early as childhood and adolescent years.

“Well it's actually interesting, because the coronary artery disease we're talking about is like a pediatric disease,” Teixeira says. “It starts very early in life and there's a buildup in plaque on the interior of the arteries that eventually causes blockage 30-40 years later.”

Teixeira also says that autopsies were conducted on dead soldiers during the Veitnam War, and plaque buildup was discovered in soldiers who were no more than 20 years old.

The American Heart Association predicts that by the year 2035, the costs related to the disease will double to $1.1 trillion. And rates don't look like they'll decrease any time soon as obesity continues to rise.

“I think the big concern is the epidemic of obesity,” Teixeira says. “We've started seeing younger and younger people and that's certainly going to reflect and develop on diabetes. And diabetes leads to coronary artery disease.”

The AHA also predicts that by 2035, more than 123 million Americans will have high blood pressure, 24 million will have coronary heart disease and more than 11 million will have experienced a stroke.

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