When cardiac patient, Larry Kleinman, found himself getting out of breath last year he was surprised to hear he had heart disease.
"I had a number of blockages including a near total blockage of my right coronary artery," said Kleinman.
The 55 year old made his heart a priority. According to Kleinman, "I went on cholesterol lowering meds, I got my sleep apnea treated."
New research suggests more patients are doing the same. A study published in the journal Circulation shows hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease and stroke dropped significantly in the last ten years. Researchers looked at data on 34 million people and found hospitalization rates fell 38% for heart attack and 34% for stroke.
According to Dr. Robert Rosenson of the Mount Sinai Hospital, "we can attribute a lot of these benefits to the implementation of preventive care. Care that is directed at lifestyle, diet and exercise, the use of statins for cholesterol lowering therapy, the use of blood pressure medications."
Experts say there is still more work to do. Heart disease and stroke combined are still the leading cause of death in the U.S.
"We are losing ground because the younger generation is more sedentary, as a society we need to take charge," said Rosenson.
Kleinman hopes his lifestyle changes will pay off. "I try to eat only vegetarian or fish 4 and a half days a week," Kleinman claims.
He's also getting more exercise and has dropped 12 pounds.
Researchers additionally credit less smoking and more timely treatments for the decline.
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.