The following chart is from the blog of Dr. David Grimes.
Dr. Grimes writes:
At the peak of the epidemic in 1970 there were 520 deaths per 100,000 per year in England and Wales, 700 in the USA, and an astounding 960 in men in the West of Scotland, the world’s highest incidence. Thereafter there was an abrupt and apparently spontaneous decline, by 83% during the next 20 years to 1990. This is an important observation as during this time there was no widespread effective medical intervention.
The decline continues. At present the death rate is about 20 per 100,000 per year and the decline appears to continue. We appear to have experienced a natural epidemic and it is now almost over. The cause of it has not been obvious, but when we realise that CHD has been an epidemic we can start to think objectively about what might have caused it.
I grew up in that era when men had to be concerned about their death or disability from a heart attack. It looks as if that era may be coming to a close. But what caused the rise in coronary heart disease, and what accounts for its fall? Seems a bit mysterious. Smoking seems a likely candidate, but the rise and decline in cigarette smoking doesn’t exactly track the rates of heart disease, the decline of which seems to have begun before smoking declined.