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Fighting Cardiovascular Diseases

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing nearly 200 medicines for heart disease and stroke.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Remarkable strides have been made in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Between 1991 and 2011, the death rate from heart disease dropped 46 percent thanks in part to innovative new medicines. Despite this progress, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of 1 in 3 Americans and costing society nearly $320 billion each year.

Fortunately, there are 190 medicines in development for heart disease, including 33 for heart failure, 29 for lipid disorders, 21 for stroke and 18 for peripheral vascular diseases and 12 for high blood pressure and thrombosis. With the medical costs of heart disease projected to more than double by 2030, innovative medicines will continue to play an important role in avoiding significant burden both for patients and society.

85.6 Million Afflicted

More than 85 million Americans have at least one type of the disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) reports. Many people who survive heart attacks still develop heart failure, a chronic disease that affects 5.7 million Americans.

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Medicare Part D Providing Economic Value and Improved Adherence

As the prevalence and cost of heart failure is rising, a new study supported by PhRMA and published in The American Journal of Managed Care, found that improved adherence to medication following the expansion of drug coverage under Medicare Part D, led to nearly $2.3 billion in savings in Medicare expenditures annually among beneficiaries with congestive heart failure (CHF). Despite the improvements in adherence following Part D, medication use remains sub-optimal. The study also found that improving adherence to recommended levels could save Medicare another $1.9 billion annually, leading to $22.4 billion saved over 10 years.

View the Medicare Monday blog series to learn more about how Medicare Part D is helping patients with chronic diseases live longer, healthier lives. 

From the Heart

Merck researcher Dr. Andy Plump tells how the loss of a family member inspires him to find new treatments for heart disease.



Between 1991 and 2011, the death rate from heart disease dropped 46 percent.

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Progress and Hurdles in Fighting High Cholesterol

High cholesterol itself is not a disease, but it can lead to serious health consequences. Every 40 seconds, an American adult dies from a heart attack, stroke, or related vascular disease, which equates to nearly 800,000 deaths per year. Despite being largely preventable, high cholesterol is a main risk factor for heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two in three Americans with high cholesterol do not have it under control, putting them at twice the risk for heart disease, and 44% of the population is expected to have some form of cardiovascular disease by 2030. If this becomes a reality, a projected $818 billion will be spent on direct care, and an estimated $276 billion will be lost in productivity.

Click the image to view the Fighting High Cholesterol infographic.

Every 40 Seconds

An American Dies From Cardiovascular Disease

That’s nearly 800,000 people each year. However, death rates are falling, thanks in large part to new medicines. Factors contributing to the ongoing decline are better control of risk factors, early detection, and better treatment and care, including new medicines and expanded use of existing treatments.

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Medicines in the Pipeline

There are 190 medicines in development for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These potential therapies utilize cutting-edge technologies and new scientific approaches to build on the progress made by existing treatments.

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Related Medicines

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome

    Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) refers to cardiovascular events, including heart attack, where there is an abrupt reduction of blood flow to the heart through the coronary arteries. An anti-inflammatory medicine in development for the syndrome inhibits the activity of p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase, an enzyme associated with the acute inflammation that occurs in the blood vessels during and immediately following an acute coronary syndrome event.

  • Heart Failure

    A medicine in development to treat ischemic heart failure is a non-viral gene therapy that targets a tissue repair and regeneration pathway in the body. This pathway promotes cardiac function, cell survival and the repair of injured heart tissue.

  • Cardiomyopathy

    An investigational therapeutic using RNAi (RNA interference) is targeting the protein transthyretin (TTR) for the treatment of familial amyloid cardiomyopathy (FAC). FAC is associated with mutations in the TTR gene that cause the TTR protein to fold or assemble incorrectly, resulting in an accumulation of amyloid fibril deposits in vital organs, such as the heart. RNAi is a biological process that can be used to silence a gene and, in turn, prevent production of the protein it encodes.



Browse and download the resources below to learn more about treatment for heart disease and stroke: