KCBS_740 OAKLAND (KCBS) — After years of steady improvement in the mortality rate caused by heart diseases, a new study shows that the decline has stalled.

Between 2000 and 2011, the U.S. saw a rapid decline in heart disease and stroke-related deaths, but the study done by Kaiser Permanente examining CDC data since 2011 found that the trend has ended.

“The decline rate has nearly stalled for nearly all of cardiovascular disease or heart disease, and for stroke,” Dr. Steve Sidney, Director of Research Clinics at Kaiser Permanente told KCBS.

Heart disease has been the leading cause of death among Americans since 1921.

“We have been consistently improving the trend, but this is a startling finding,” Dr. Jamal Rana told KCBS.

The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of Cardiology.

Doctors say there is a way to get back on track.

“The primary thing to address would be obesity and diabetes, and to address them early in life,” Dr. Sidney said.