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American Heart Month --- February 2004

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of permanent disability. During 2004, of the estimated 1.2 million persons who will have a heart attack, approximately half will die (1). Recognizing and responding promptly to heart attack symptoms and receiving appropriate care can prevent or limit heart damage (2).

In 2001, approximately 17% of U.S. residents who died from heart disease were aged <65 years; the percentage was higher among blacks, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics. Reducing racial/ethnic disparities in the percentage of deaths from heart disease among persons aged <65 years will require programs to detect and prevent the major risk factors for heart disease among young and middle-aged adults.

CDC funds health departments in 32 states and the District of Columbia to develop programs for reducing the burden of heart disease and stroke and their risk factors. These programs emphasize multiple strategies to target heart disease and stroke in various settings and to ensure that patients receive quality care. Additional information about CDC's State Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program is available at


  1. American Heart Association. Heart disease and stroke statistics---2004 update. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association, 2003. Available at
  2. Ornato JP, Hand MM. Warning signs of a heart attack. Circulation 2001;104:1212--3.

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