Chicago Tribune

If you’re one of the evidently healthy people who has decided that 50 is the new 40, here’s a dose of sobering news.

The big decline in deaths due to heart disease that the U.S. has enjoyed over much of the past century has slowed to a crawl.

And for one age group — middle-aged Americans — deaths due to cardiovascular disease are actually on the rise.

Why are heart attacks and strokes holding strong?

Cardiologists point to two enduring culprits, The Wall Street Journal reports: obesity and the rise in Type 2 diabetes. Both contribute to high blood pressure, America’s “silent killer” that ramps up the risk of strokes and heart problems. According to the Journal, nearly 40% of American adults over 20 are obese, and 9.4% of U.S. adults 18 and older suffer from diabetes. Those percentages should startle and humble all of us.

Easy fixes won’t suffice. At best the supplements route has its limits, and many of those pills do nothing but shrink your bank account. We hate to sound like a broken record, but simply stopping smoking isn’t enough anymore. Sensible diet? Check. More exercise? Check. Regular doctor visits? Check. Taking the statins or other meds the doc prescribed for you? Check.

You don’t need to hop on the bandwagon of every new health fad that gets a headline. All you need is a bit of common sense — and the willpower to act on it.