Heart Disease Facts
America's Heart Disease Burden
- About 610,000 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 over 370,000 people annually.1
- Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.2
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|
|American Indians or Alaska Natives||18.0|
|Asians or Pacific Islanders||23.2|
Deaths Vary by Geography
During 2008-2010, death rates due to heart disease were highest in the South and lowest in the West.
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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:
- Overweight and obesity
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
Protect Your Heart
Lowering your 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 and www.smokefree.gov for tips on quitting.
- Heart Disease Fact Sheet
- Men and Heart Disease
- Women and Heart Disease
- Heart Failure Fact Sheet
- Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
- Cholesterol Fact Sheet
- High Blood Pressure Fact Sheet
- Pulmonary Hypertension Fact Sheet
- CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed Feb. 3, 2015.
- Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015;131:e29-322.
- 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.
- Heron M. Deaths: Leading causes for 2008. [PDF-2.7M] National vital statistics reports. 2012;60(6).
- CDC. Disparities in Adult Awareness of Heart Attack Warning Signs and Symptoms—14 States, 2005. MMWR. 2008;57(7):175–179.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Specific Mortality from Sudden Cardiac Death: United States, 1999. MMWR. 2002;51(6):123–126.
- CDC. Million Hearts: strategies to reduce the prevalence of leading cardiovascular disease risk factors. United States, 2011. MMWR2011;60(36):1248–51.
- Page last reviewed: February 19, 2015
- Page last updated: February 19, 2015
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