LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The rate of people dying from heart disease in Los Angeles County dropped by 41 percent between 1996 and 2007, while the rate of people dying from strokes fell by 39 percent.

“These declines in heart disease and stroke mortality represent great improvements in the public’s health, and they will become more important still as the population ages,” according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of county Public Health.

Fielding credited the drops to improved public education about the warning signs of heart disease and stroke, along with more effective medical treatments for high blood pressure and cholesterol.

According to the county, Los Angeles County experienced 239 deaths per 100,000 people due to heart disease in 1996. In 2007, the county saw 141 deaths per 100,000 people due to heart disease.

In 1996, there were 59 deaths per 100,000 people due to stroke, but that figure dropped to 36 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007.

Fielding noted that the county’s mortality rate for heart disease is still 12 percent above the national average.

“Progress has been made both in reducing risk factors such as smoking, but the prevalence of other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including obesity, lack of physical activity, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and tobacco use, remain very high,” he said.