Heart Disease Risk Factors

Heart Disease Facts

From the Center of Disease Control and Prevention

America’s Heart Disease Burden

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.1
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.1
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 peopleannually.1
  • Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack. 325,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.2
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year.3 This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.


Deaths Vary by Ethnicity

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. For American Indians or Alaska Natives and Asians or Pacific Islanders, heart disease is second only to cancer. Below are the percentages of all deaths caused by heart disease in 2008, listed by ethnicity.4
Race of Ethnic Group % of Deaths
African Americans 24.5
American Indians or Alaska Natives 18.0
Asians or Pacific Islanders 23.2
Hispanics 20.8
Whites 25.1
All 25.0


Deaths Vary by Geography

During 2007–2009, death rates due to heart disease were highest in the South and lowest in the West.

During 2007-2009, death rates due to heart disease were the highest in the South and lowest in the Western United States.

Early Action is Key

Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack is key to preventing death, but many people don’t know the signs.
  • In a 2005 survey, most respondents—92%—recognized chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack. Only 27% were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a heart attack.5
  • About 47% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This suggests that many people with heart disease don’t act on early warning signs.6
Heart attacks have several major warning signs and symptoms:
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.


Americans at Risk

High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors.7
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use


Protect Your Heart

Lowering you blood pressure and cholesterol will reduce your risk of dying of heart disease. Here are some tips to protect your heart:
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medications.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt; low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Take a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco andwww.smokefree.govExternal Web Site Icon for tips on quitting.


Fact Sheets


References

  1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009. Adobe PDF file [PDF-2M] National vital statistics reports. 2011;60(3).
  2. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart AssociationExternal Web Site IconCirculation. 2012;125(1):e2–220.
  3. Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, et al. Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association.Circulation. 2011;123:933-44. Epub 2011 Jan 24.
  4. Heron M. Deaths: Leading causes for 2008. Adobe PDF file [PDF-2.7M] National vital statistics reports. 2012;60(6).
  5. CDC. Disparities in Adult Awareness of Heart Attack Warning Signs and Symptoms—14 States, 2005MMWR. 2008;57(7):175–179.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Specific Mortality from Sudden Cardiac Death: United States, 1999MMWR. 2002;51(6):123–126.
  7. CDC. Million Hearts: strategies to reduce the prevalence of leading cardiovascular disease risk factors. United States, 2011. MMWR2011;60(36):1248–51.

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