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Heart Disease and Stroke An Overview

Heart Disease and Stroke - An Overview of Our Nation's Leading Killers

Updated September 2014


The National Conference of State Legislatures works in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program to provide up to date information on heart disease and stroke facts, statistics, and legislative policy options addressing heart disease and stroke. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States.

The interactive map provides national, state and county rates for heart disease and stroke mortality and hospitalizations.  To view your state's data select the interactive map and  choose your state from the drop down list or selected links. 

Heart Disease and Stroke Map

Source:  Heart Disease and Stroke Maps; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

 

IN THE NEWS 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued “Reducing Sodium in Children’s Diets: The Pressure is on to Keep Blood Pressure Down.” This CDC Vital Signs report released in September 2014 shows that 9 in 10 U.S. school-aged children eat more sodium than recommended. A high sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

February is Heart Month - CDC Vital Signs: Where's the Sodium?  There's too much in many common foods.  About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. Too much sodium increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure. High blood pressure often leads to heart disease and stroke.  More than 800,000 people die each year from heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases, costing the nation $273 billion health care dollars in 2010.


 

TOPICS

The Economic Cost of Cardiovascular
Disease in the United States

The Burden of Heart Disease and Stroke

Disparities in Heart Disease and Stroke

Prevention and Risk Reduction Strategies

The Impact of Policies and Environmental Change

 


Recent NCSL News

Public Health Herald: Winter 2012

Million Hearts Initiative

 State Legislatures Magazine: "The New Healthy"

 

 

 

 

NCSL RESOURCES

50-State Profile and Policy Reports

Heart Disease and Stroke: 2011 Update of State Legislative Policy Options

Public Health Herald: Winter 2011 

Vital Signs to Heart Health

Heart Disease and Stroke: 2009 - 2010 Update of State Legislative Policy Options

Public Health Herald: Spring 2010

Consuming Too Much Salt is a Health Risk

LegisBrief: February 2010
Reducing Sodium to Improve Health

LegisBrief: February 2009
Disparities in Cardiovascular Health

Public Health Herald: Winter 2009
Cardiovascular Disease

Women's Heart Health

 

The Economic Cost of Cardiovascular Disease in the United States

  • Treatment for cardiovascular diseases accounts for nearly $1 of every $6 spent on health care in the United States.
  • In 2010, an estimated $444 billion was spent on cardiovascular disease treatment, medication and lost productivity from disability.
  • In 2010, total health care costs for stroke treatment and disability were an estimated $53.9 billion.
  • In 2006, hospitalization costs due to cardiovascular problems for Medicare beneficiaries reached a high of $32.7 billion.

Sources: American Heart Association.  Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics - 2009 Update; CDC, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Addressing the Nation's Leading Killers, At A Glance, 2011

The Burden of Heart Disease and Stroke

  • Heart disease and stroke are the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Approximately one-third of the population (more than 80 million Americans) live with one or more types of cardiovascular disease; this accounts for more than 7 million hospitalizations per year.
  • Heart disease and stroke are also among the leading causes of disability in the U.S., nearly one million people are disabled from stroke alone.
  • Nearly 68 million adults have high blood pressure and about half do not have it under controll.
  • An estimated 71 million adults have high cholesterol (LDL-Chol) and nearly 2 out of 3 do not have it under control.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in U.S. women and affects one in three female adults; 52.8 percent of cardiovascular disease occur among women.
  • Medical specialists emphasize "The Big Five" heart disease and stroke risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking or second hand smoke, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
  • Reducing major risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, tobacco use and diabetes, while increasing physical activity and healthy eating would significantly reduce heart disease and stroke.

Sources: American Heart Association.  Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics - 2009 Update;  CDC, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Addressing the Nation's Leading Killers, At A Glance, 2011

Disparities in Heart Disease and Stroke

  • Cardiovascular disease is the nation's #1 killer of men and women across all racial and ethnic groups.
  • Minority populations bear a disproportionate burden of death and disability due to cardiovascular disease.
  • Among minority populations many diseases of the heart go undiagnosed, due in part to disparities in access to preventive care and in awareness and access to knowledge.
  • African Americans have the highest rate of high blood pressure in the United States and this rate is increasing.  When compared with whites, they develop high blood pressure earlier in life.  
  • African American men, for example, are diagnosed with heart disease less often and are 30 percent more likely to die from it than white men.
  • Data from the 2003 CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey indicate that low socio-economic status is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  People reporting household income greater or equal to $50,000 had the lowest prevalence of cardiovascular disease, and those reporting household income of less than or equal to $10,000 had the highest prevalence.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Fact Sheets and At-A-Glance Reports

Prevention and Risk Reduction Strategies

  • Reducing blood pressure, specifically systolic pressure (the number above the line in a reading, 120/80) by 12-13 (mm/Hg) points over a 4 year period can decrease risk of:
    • Coronary heart disease by 21 percent
    • Stroke by 37 percent
    • Cardiovascular disease death by 25 percent
    • Overall death by 13 percent
  • A 10 percent reduction in serum cholesterol levels results in a 30 percent reduction in the number of heart attacks and strokes.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

Economic findings based on a model developed by researchers at the Urban Institute and a review of evidence-based studies conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine indicate that an investment of $10 per person per year in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could save the country more than $16 billion annually within five years.  This is a return of $5.60 for every $1. 

Savings of $16 billion include:

  • More than $5 billion in Medicare savings 
  • More than $1.9 billion in Medicaid savings 
  • More than $9 billion in savings for private payers 

Evidence shows that implementing programs that increase access to affordable nutritious foods, increase sidewalks and parks, and raise tobacco tax rates in communities reduce rates of:

  • Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by 5 percent within 2 years 
  • Heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke by 5 percent within 5 years
  • Some forms of cancer, arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 2.5 percent within 10 to 20 years

Source: Trust for America's Health report Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities July 2008

The Impact of Policies and Environmental Change 

For most people, heart disease and stroke can be prevented through lifestyle and behavior changes. Controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes reduces the risk of developing heart disease. When people eat a healthy diet, are physically active, maintain a healthy weight and don't smoke or quit smoking their risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and some cancers significantly decreases.  A community - neighborhoods, child care settings, schools, workplaces, senior centers, and health care settings - can support individual and family efforts to eat healthy food and engage in regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.  Early detection and treatment is key to reducing a person's risk, state and local policy can support programs that increase access to affordable nutritious foods, provide access to sidewalks and safe recreational areas, and increase access to blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screenings among all populations to promote heart healthy and stroke free communities.   

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Addressing the Nation's Leading Killers, At-A-Glance 2009

Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can cause coronary heart disease.  The Pueblo Heart Study demonstrated over a three year period that smoke-free policies can prevent death and disease linked to heart disease by showing a 41 percent reduction in heart attack hospitalizations due to reduced secondhand smoke exposure.  Nine previous studies conducted over a period of one year or less also reported significant reductions in heart attack hospitalizations after smoke-free policies were adopted. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention MMWR Weekly January 2, 2009.


NCSL Resources: 
Diabetes Overview  |  Healthy Eating and Active Living  |   Laws on Cardiac Arrest and Defibrillators  |   Wellness Overview  
Resources: 
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  |   American Heart Association  |   American Stroke Association  |   National Stroke Association

For information: health-info@ncsl.org

 

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