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Cardiovascular Disease

  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women.

  • Nearly half a million women die each year from heart attacks and stroke-nearly double the number of people who die from ALL forms of cancer combined.

  • Roughly 60,800,000 Americans suffer from one or more cardiovascular diseases:

•High Blood Pressure


•Coronary Heart Disease
            -  Myocardial Infarction
            -  Angina Pectoris 


•Stroke   4,500,000
•Congenital Cardiovascular Defects   1,000,000
•Congestive Heart Failure 4,700,000
  • One in 5 Americans has some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • Since 1900, CVD has been the biggest killer in the U.S., every year, except for 1918.
  • Heart attack is the number one killer of American women age 35 and older.
  • Although women typically develop heart disease ten years later than men, they are twice as likely to die from heart attacks.
  • Cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of nearly one in two women.
  • One in 10 women ages 45 to 65 has some form of heart disease. Heart disease occurs in one in 4 women over age 65.


  • This year, as many as 1.1 million Americans will have a coronary attack (including heart attack and fatal coronary disease). About one-third of them will die.
  • Every 29 seconds, someone in the United States will suffer a heart attack and every minute, someone will die from one.
  • Nearly 85 percent of people who die from heart disease are age 65 and older.


  • Expenditures for all cardiovascular diseases in the United States exceed $298 billion per year.
  • In the United States, the average cost of a heart attack from hospital admission to discharge is nearly $23,000.

Risk Factors

Tens of millions of Americans fall into a variety of cardiovascular disease risk categories:

  • Tobacco Smokers: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47,000,000 Americans over the age of 18 currently smoke.
  • High Cholesterol:  More than 100,000,000 individuals have cholesterol levels that fall into the borderline high-risk category.
  • Overweight or Obesity:  Approximately 107,000,000 and 43,000,000 adults over 20 are considered overweight or obese, respectively.
  • Diabetes: More than 10,000,000 Americans suffer from physician-diagnosed diabetes, while more than 5,000,000 additional individuals are estimated to have undiagnosed diabetes.
  • Other risk factors for heart disease:
    • Family history of heart disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Sedentary lifestyle
    • Menopause
    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
    • Untreated depression

Time To Treatment

  • Each year, more than 250,000 Americans die within one hour of onset of heart attack symptoms before ever reaching a hospital.
  • The average heart attack victim often denies what is happening, and with time at a premium, waits more than two hours before getting help.
  • Several large, worldwide studies have determined that life-saving heart attack therapies are most beneficial when initiated early in the course of a heart attack.
  • Guidelines from the National Institutes of Health's National Heart Attack Alert Program urge hospital emergency departments to reduce delays in treating heart attack patients. The goal is to treat heart attack patients within 30 minutes of arrival in the emergency room.


  • American Heart Association. 2001 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association, 2000.
  • National Heart Attack Alert Program Coordinating Committee 60 Minutes to Treatment Group. Emergency Department: Rapid Identification and Treatment of Patients with Acute Myocardial Infarction. NIH Publication No. 93-3278, September 1993.
  • World Health Organization. 1997 World Health Report.
  • Zaret BL, Moser M, Cohen LS, eds., Yale University School of Medicine Heart Book. Hearst Books. New York. 1992.
  • Myocardial Infarction and Coronary Deaths in the World Health Organization MONICA Project. Registration procedures, event rates and case-fatality rates in 38 populations from 21 countries in four continents. Circulation 1994;90(1):583-612.
  • Click here for more information.

    Created: 6/23/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.
    Reviewed: 12/26/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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