Heart Disease and Diabetes Deaths are Increasing, Research Shows


The science and practice of health and medicine seem to be progressing so rapidly. There is seemingly a constant barrage of news stories on improvements in detection and monitoring, drug therapies, and high-tech treatments, not to mention reports about new ideas in nutrition and other lifestyle choices.

Despite this progress, new research suggests a different narrative. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that life expectancy in the U.S. has recently dipped, and deaths from cardiometabolic diseases are on the rise. What does this mean, and what can you do about it? Read on!


Some Background: Gains from 1900-2000

How did we get to this point? Let us look back over a century. Life expectancy steadily increased in the twentieth century. A baby born in 1900 had a life expectancy of 47.3 years, while a baby born in 1950 had a life expectancy of 72 years. This dramatic increase was largely due to better hygiene and sanitation, antibiotics such as penicillin, and vaccinations, resulting in fewer infections diseases and fewer infant and early deaths.

Life expectancy continued to rise at a slower rate, hitting 76.8 in 2000. These additional gains reflected more progress against infectious diseases, as well as better detection and management of a new focus: Chronic conditions. Earlier detection and treatment, and better medications helped reduce the negative impact of chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and others. In addition, researchers learned a lot about the amazing powers of smart lifestyle choices, such as eating well, sleeping enough, and getting regular physical activity, for chronic condition management.


Stalled Progress in Health Gains

With so much progress, it may come as a surprise that life expectancy has dipped. The life expectancy for an American born in 2016 is 78.6 years. For females, the number is 81.1 years, while for males it is 76.1 years. The difference is likely due to many factors, including hormonal differences, lifestyle choices, and approaches to medical care.

The trouble is that this life expectancy is lower than the previous year, which was lower than the year before that. This is the first time since 1962 and 1963 that the life expectancy decreased two years in a row.

Furthermore, cardiometabolic mortality has increased in recent years after years of decline. That is, deaths from diabetes and hypertension have increased, stroke mortality has remained stable overall, while increasing in certain subgroups, and heart disease deaths have decreased slightly overall, but increased among certain groups.


Disparities in Health Status

Another trend is that disparities remain. Black men and women are about twice as likely as white men and women, respectively, to die from diabetes or hypertension. Stroke and heart disease mortality rates are between 25% and 50% higher among black Americans than white Americans. These disturbing trends have been present for decades, and have various causes. But the trend has been the same among all groups.


Causes of Poorer Health

What happened? The causes of the increase in cardiometabolic mortality, and the reduction in life expectancy are not due to a dramatic increase in infectious diseases, a scarcity of safe drinking water, or a failure of vaccinations. Rather, they may be associated with poor health behaviors.

Luckily, these health behaviors are modifiable. That means you can do something about them. You can lower your risk for cardiometabolic conditions by:

  • Losing weight if you are overweight or obese.

  • Being physically active most days of the week.

  • Getting enough sleep.

  • Eating more vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruit.

  • Eating less fried and fast food, sugary foods and beverages, and red and processed meats.

In addition, you can manage your conditions and lower the risk of complications by taking any prescription medications properly and following a personalized care plan.


Lower Your Risk

It is not easy to lose weight and make other healthy changes that can lower risk for diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions, but help is available. Lark can coach you (or your members or employees, depending on the reader) in making small, sustainable changes that can become habits. With 24/7 support from AI and smart, connected devices, you can give cardiometabolic diseases a run for their money.


Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health

How to Get More from Your Workouts

Congratulations on your progress so far in Lark DPP! Now that you are making a commitment to your health and weight loss, don’t you want to get the most out of your efforts? There are some ways you can get more from your workouts without putting in any more time or effort. Are you in?


The Prep

Get ready for your workout by scheduling it into your busy calendar so you can set aside the time. Plan what you will do for your workout and take any necessary steps to make sure you are ready. Do you need to sign up for the class so it’s not full? Do you need to phone a friend to remind her to meet you? 

Then, get your clothing, shoes, and any necessary equipment, such as a tennis racket and balls or a reflective cycling vest, ready. Set it out the day before your workout to avoid last-minute scrambling and last-minute excuses. Do you need to download any music to listen to while exercising?

Be sure to hydrate all day before your workout, or down some water first thing if you are exercising early in the morning. Eat a light pre-workout snack an hour or two before your workout, or have a light meal about three hours before.


The Warm-Up

The warm-up gradually gets you ready for the higher-intensity workout so you can avoid injury and other health risks. Walking and stationary cycling and, if you are doing a swimming workout, slow swimming, can be good warm-ups. Start slowly and by the end of 5 to 10 minutes, you should be going at about the intensity of your workout. Have a bit of water and then you are ready to go!


The Workout

During your workout, try to focus on the workout and being in the moment. Stop texting and put your phone away if you can - at least, unless you are using it for music, for talking to a workout buddy, or for watching a workout video that you are following.

During your workout, have a water bottle handy and aim to drink about 16 to 32 ounces of water. Most people rarely need sports drinks unless they are doing intense exercise, such as running hard, for over 90 minutes.


The Cool-Down

When you are finished, take another 5 to 10 minutes to do the opposite of your warm-up. Start out at the intensity you finished your workout at, and gradually slow down until your breathing is slower. Then stretch your major muscle groups to reduce injury risk, and breathe deeply. Praise yourself for the workout and feel proud so you can let that great feeling of accomplishment motivate you the next time.


The Recovery

You are not quite finished yet, but this is the fun part! Recover properly so you’re ready to come back again the next day. Hydrate again with water, and have a well-deserved post-workout snack or meal. Try to eat within an hour after finishing to take advantage of the post-workout window when your muscles are best able to refuel. 

Your meal or snack should have mostly carbohydrates and some protein. These are some sample snacks.

  • Half a whole-grain English muffin with peanut butter.

  • Cottage cheese and fruit.

  • String cheese and a slice of whole-wheat bread.

  • Yogurt and oats.

You are working way too hard not to take full advantage, so try these workout tips! You may achieve better results. 


Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health