A dramatic decline in the number of stroke deaths in the U.S. is being hailed as a major achievement in public health.  

The American Heart Association attributes the change to efforts focused on getting people to lower their blood pressure, stop smoking, exercise, and gain better control of their diabetes.  Faster acute stroke care and treatment also have helped lower death rates.  

The big push to lower stroke deaths across the country started in the 1970s and has resulted in fewer deaths in both men and women across all racial and ethnic groups.  

The findings were published in the Heart Association journal "Stroke."