Heart disease and stroke are among the most widespread and costly health problems facing our nation today, even though they are also among the most preventable. Heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading causes of death for both women and men. They are also major causes of illness and disability and are estimated to cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars annually in health care expenditures and lost productivity. However, as a nation we still cannot accurately quantify and track the full magnitude of the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
As part of its core mission, CDC works with states and other partners to monitor disease outbreaks and track national health statistics. Surveillance (the monitoring and tracking of health and disease) is a fundamental tool that supports many public health activities. Tracking heart disease, stroke, and their risk factors is essential to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs and policies to prevent heart disease and stroke. Data are needed for monitoring trends and patterns, setting research priorities, monitoring quality of care and patient outcomes, identifying underserved populations, and planning the placement of services.
To meet national- and state-level needs for CVD data, CDC has developed a National Cardiovascular Disease Surveillance System. The system is designed to integrate multiple indicators from many data sources to provide a comprehensive picture of the public health burden of CVDs and associated risk factors in the United States. A key feature of the system is the interactive Data Trends & Maps Web site, which displays these CVD surveillance data. The data are organized by location (national, state, county, and selected sites) and indicator, and they include CVDs (e.g., heart failure), risk factors (e.g., hypertension), and biomarkers (e.g., homocysteine). The data can be plotted as 10-year trends and stratified by age group, sex, and race/ethnicity.