How Common is Heart Disease?

Danielle Belardo

Next month, I want to celebrate my favorite organ… the heart!

We are going to talk about heart disease prevention, detection, and treatment.

I want to answer your burning heart health questions and cover any topics in cardiology that you want to learn about.

Ever wonder what a coronary artery calcium score is?  Should you get one?  What is a stress test?  What is a cardiac cath?  What is a good “lipid profile”? What are the signs of a heart attack, and are they the same for men and women? What is the best way I can prevent heart disease?

These are just a few of the questions I have been asked recently, and we will touch on all of this and MUCH MORE!  I will be interviewing my colleagues in cardiac imaging, preventative cardiology and interventional cardiology and sharing our answers with you!

Please email, or message me on Instagram @theveggiemd, or comment here, and tell me any cardiology topics you want to learn about next month!

Today, I just wanted to remind you just how devastating cardiovascular disease is in our nation and around the world.

Here are some of the most interesting statistics from the 2017 American Heart Association  Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, published in Circulation. (Citation at the bottom of this post.)


Heart Disease

  • Heart Disease (including Coronary Heart Disease, Hypertension, and Stroke) remains to be the No. 1 cause of death in the US.

  • About 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 40 seconds.

  • Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease combined.

  • Cardiovascular disease, listed as the underlying cause of death, accounts for nearly 801,000 deaths in the US. That’s about 1 of every 3 deaths in the US.

  • About 790,000 people in the US have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 114,000 will die.

  • The estimated annual incidence of heart attack in the US is 580,000 new attacks and 210,000 recurrent attacks. Average age at the first heart attack is 65.3 years for males and 71.8 years for females.

  • Approximately every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack.

  • Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause (45.1 percent) of deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease in the US, followed by stroke (16.5 percent), Heart Failure (8.5 percent), High Blood Pressure (9.1 percent), diseases of the arteries (3.2 percent), and other cardiovascular diseases

  • Nearly half of all NH black adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, 47.7 percent of females and 46.0 percent of males.

  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for more than 17.3 million deaths per year in 2013, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030.

  • In 2013, cardiovascular deaths represented 31 percent of all global deaths.



  • Someone in the US has a stroke about once every 40 seconds.

  • Stroke accounts for 1 of every 20 deaths in the US.

  • Stroke kills someone in the US about every 4 minutes.

  • When considered separately from other cardiovascular diseases, stroke ranks No. 5 among all cause of death in the US, killing nearly 133,000 people a year.

  • Each year, about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. Approximately 610,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks. Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the US.

  • In 2013, worldwide prevalence of stroke was 25.7 million, with 10.3 million people having a first stroke.

  • Stroke was the second-leading global cause of death behind heart disease in 2013, accounting for 11.8 percent of total deaths worldwide.


Cardiac Arrest

  • In 2014, any-mention sudden cardiac arrest mortality in the US was 353,427.

  • The majority of Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests (OHCA) occur at a home or residence (70 percent). In 2015, public settings (19.8 percent) and nursing homes (10.6 percent) were the second and third most common locations of OHCA.



  • Between 2013 and 2030, medical costs of Coronary Heart Disease are projected to increase by about 100 percent.

  • About 92.1 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke. Direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke are estimated to total more than $316 billion; that includes both health expenditures and lost productivity.

  • In 2010, the estimated global cost of cardiovascular disease was $863 billion, and it is estimated to rise to $1044 billion by 2030.


Physical Activity, Obesity

  • About one in every three U.S. adults or 30.4 percent, do not engage in leisure time physical activity.

  • In the US, the prevalence of obesity among adults, estimated using NHANES data, increased from 1999 to 2000 through 2013 to 2014 from 30.5 percent to 37.7 percent.

  • In the US, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents age 2-19 years, estimated using NHANES data, is 33.4 percent (16.2 percent were overweight and 17.2 percent were obese).

  • By age group, the prevalence of obesity for children aged 2 to 5 years was 9.4 percent; for children aged 6 to 11 years, prevalence was 17.4 percent; and for adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, prevalence was 20.6 percent.

  • Worldwide, between 1980 and 2013, the proportion of overweight or obese adults increased from 28.8 percent to 36.9 percent among males and from 29.8 percent to 38.0 percent among females.



  • About 94.6 million, or 39.7 percent, of American adults have total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or higher.

  • About 28.5 million, or 11.9 percent, of American adults have total cholesterol of 240 mg/dL or higher.

  • Nearly 1 of every 3 American adults have high levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind).

  • About 18.7 percent of American adults have low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind).



  • About 85.7 million, or 34 percent, of American adults have high blood pressure.

  • Of the hypertensives, about 76 percent of those are using antihypertensive medication, but only 54.4 percent of those have their condition controlled.

  • About 77 percent of people who have a first stroke have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg.

  • Nearly half of people with high blood pressure (45.6 percent) do not have it under control.

  • Projections show that by 2030, about 41.4 percent of US adults will have hypertension, an increase of 8.4 percent from 2012 estimates.



  • An estimated 23.4 million, or 9.1 percent, of American adults have diagnosed diabetes.

  • An estimated 7.6 million, or 3.1 percent, of American adults have undiagnosed diabetes. Additionally, about 81.6 million, or 33.9 percent, of American adults have prediabetes.

  • Hispanics, NH blacks, and NH Asians bear a disproportionate burden of diabetes in the US.

  • The prevalence of diabetes for adults worldwide was estimated to be 6.4 percent in 2010 and is projected to be 7.7 percent in 2030. The total number of people with diabetes is projected to rise from 285 million in 2010 to 439 million in 2030.


Together, lets work toward a healthier future!  Help me, help you.  Send me the questions and heart disease topics you want to learn about this February!


Here’s to a healthier 2018!


Data from:

Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2017 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association

Emelia J. Benjamin et all

On behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee

Circulation. 2017;135:e146-e603

Originally published January 25, 2017

Danielle Belardo