It seems that heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular ailments tend to find their way into the news nearly every day. Many of these stories may be somewhat discouraging, revealing behaviors or habits that we regularly engage in that contribute to poorer cardiac health. But now there may be cause for guarded optimism about stroke: the condition has receded in the leading causes of death among Americans, according to a report in Medical News Today.

A relatively unvarying list

The report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ranks the leading causes of deaths among American citizens every year. While one might imagine that they might vary considerably from year by year, that actually isn't the case. In fact, the only movement between the 2012 and 2013 lists was stroke dropping from the fourth leading cause of American deaths to the fifth. While this move may represent an improvement, it also thrusts an equally unfortunate cause of death, unintentional injuries, into the fourth leading slot. Unintentional injuries, such as those caused by car accidents, sports injuries and the like, killed nearly 1,600 more individuals than stroke did in 2013.

Causes for the change

Although no one knows exactly why stroke deaths went down, recent advances in diagnosis, response time, medicine and other treatments can likely share the credit. Nonetheless, many close to the issue feel as though the good news only goes so far. The former president of the American Heart Association, Ralph Sacco, said that despite fewer deaths, stroke is still on the rise:

"There are more stroke centers now operating in the U.S., and the acute care of stroke is improving. However, although mortality from stroke is dropping, we know that the number of people in the U.S. having strokes is rising each year due to the aging of our population and other signs that strokes have increased in younger groups," said Sacco.

Protecting ourselves

While the fact that stroke deaths have dropped in Americans is encouraging, the rising number of strokes should serve as a reminder that will still need to protect ourselves from the condition. Speak with your doctor about what you can do to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, or cardiac disease. Adopting a strong and healthy diet, regimented exercise routine, and low-stress lifestyle is a good start.

For more on stroke:

What Symptoms Follow A Stroke?
Stroke: Self Management
How to Prevent Stroke When You Have Atrial Fibrillation