American Heart Association update shows that one in every three deaths in the USA are caused by cardiovascular disease


The American Heart Association (AHA)’s 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update has shown that one out of every three deaths in the USA in 2013 were from cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke. Respectively, heart disease and stroke were the first and second greatest killers globally.

This update-which has been produced since 1958-is made up from the most-recent data available compiled by the AHA, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government sources.

“Statistics about cardiovascular disease and stroke, and particularly the metrics about death and the factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease are incredibly important,” says AHA President Mark Creager, director of the Heart and Vascular Center at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

He says that the information helps the AHA track the effectiveness of its efforts.

Despite the progress in reducing the number of deaths from heart disease and stroke, Creager says, the numbers are still too high.

In the USA, the data showed:

  • cardiovascular diseases claimed 801,000 lives;
  • heart disease killed more than 370,000 people;
  • stroke killed nearly 129,000 people;
  • about 116,000 of the 750,000 people in the USA who had a heart attack died;
  • about 795,000 people had a stroke, the leading preventable cause of disability;
  • among African-Americans adults, 48% of women and 46% of men have some form of cardiovascular disease; and
  • African-Americans have nearly twice the risk for a first-ever stroke than whites.

Cardiovascular disease is not only the top killer in the USA, but worldwide, says David S Siscovick, chair of AHA’s Council on Epidemiology and Prevention and senior vice president for research at the New York Academy of Medicine in New York City, USA. Hypertension, obesity and diabetes are global epidemics, he says.

The data showed globally that:

  • 31% of all deaths were from cardiovascular disease, with 80% occurring in low- and middle-income countries as of 2013;
  • stroke accounted for 11.8% of all deaths, and;
  • 16.9 million people worldwide had a first stroke in 2010.

Over the decades, the statistical update has expanded to include information about health disparities, the global impact of cardiovascular disease and risk factors, Siscovick says.

The update now tracks health factors and behaviours known to contribute to good cardiovascular health, referred to by the AHA as Life’s Simple 7.

Among these factors:

  • nearly 19% of men and 15% of women in the USA were cigarette smokers in 2014, despite a 30% drop in cigarette smoking since 1998;
  • about one in three U.S. adults in 2014 reported no physical activity outside of work;
  • the proportion of people consuming an ideal diet increased from 0.2%-0.6% in children, and from 0.7%-1.5% in adults between 2003-2004 and 2011–2012;
  • nearly 160 million people in the U.S. were overweight or obese: 69% of adults and 32% of children in 2009-2012;
  • 13 million U.S. adults, about 17%, were obese in 2009-2012;
  • about 43 percent of Americans had total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or higher from 2009-2012;
  • about 80 million U.S. adults, 33%, had high blood pressure in 2009-2012;
  • among African-American adults, 46% of women and 45% of men have high blood pressure; and
  • about 9% of Americans have diagnosed diabetes and 35% have pre-type-2-diabetes.

Siscovick says the stats show a clear potential to better prevent and manage cardiovascular diseases. The challenge is making prevention part of our culture, he says.

“We need to maintain our vigour and resolve in promoting good cardiovascular health through lifestyle and recognition and treatment of risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking,” Creager says. “We’ve made progress in the fight against cardiovascular disease, but the battle is not won.”