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Press Release

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2007
Contact: Division of News & Electronic Media, Office of Communication
(404) 639-3286

CDC Report Provides First State-Specific Data on Persons Living with Heart Disease

Significant Differences in Heart Disease Prevalence among States and U.S. Territories

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released a report that finds a wide range of variation in the prevalence of coronary heart disease (a narrowing of the arteries that feed the heart), heart attack and angina (chest pain that occurs when the heart does not get enough blood). The report provides the first ever information on the percentage of people living with heart disease in all 50 states and U.S. territories. The report found that some states and territories had double the prevalence of heart disease as others. For heart attacks, rates ranged from 2.1 percent in the U.S. Virgin Islands to 6.1 percent in West Virginia, while the prevalence of any condition – heart attack, angina or coronary heart disease – ranged from 3.5 percent in the U.S. Virgin Islands to 10.4 percent in West Virginia.

The study, Prevalence of Heart Disease – United States, 2005 was published in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The study is based on an analysis of state-specific data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System – a random phone survey of U.S. adults age 18 and older conducted by state/territorial health departments.

Overall, about 6.5 percent of those surveyed reported that a doctor or health care professional had told them they had one or more of the following – heart attack, angina or coronary heart disease – with 4 percent indicating they had a heart attack and 4.4 percent reporting angina or coronary heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

"These findings show the importance of preventing and controlling known risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood cholesterol, tobacco use, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity," said Jonathan Neyer, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist in CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP). "We hope this report will help states and U.S. territories better tailor their heart disease prevention efforts."

Residents of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia had the highest prevalence of these heart diseases. Many of these states are known to have a high proportion of residents with multiple heart disease risk factors and a disproportionately high number of heart disease deaths. The same was found among residents living in Puerto Rico.

The places reporting the lowest level of heart disease prevalence were: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota, Utah, Hawaii, Colorado, District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The report also identified gender and racial/ethnic differences in heart disease prevalence. Men had a significantly higher prevalence than women (8.2 percent vs. 5 percent) for coronary heart disease or non-fatal heart attack, and angina. American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest heart disease prevalence (11.2 percent) and Asians had the lowest prevalence (4.7 percent). There was little difference in heart disease prevalence among whites (6.9 percent), blacks (6.2 percent) or Hispanics (6.2 percent).

The report also identified differences in prevalence based on educational levels. Heart disease prevalence was nearly twice as high in individuals with fewer than 12 years of education (9.8 percent) compared to college graduates (5 percent).

CDC works with nearly 80 national organizations through the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention to achieve national goals for preventing heart disease and stroke. Funding is provided to state health departments in 32 states and the District of Columbia to support educational programs, policies, environmental strategies and systems changes that address heart disease. CDC’s WISEWOMAN program funds 15 projects across the country that provides low income, underinsured and uninsured women (aged 40-64 years) with risk factor screening, lifestyle intervention strategies and referral services.

For more information about heart disease, please visit the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention’s Web site at


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