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Embargoed until 11 AM (EST), Wednesday, June 20, 2001

June 20, 2001
Contact: CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease
Prevention & Health Promotion
(770) 488-5131
Alexandra Nolan
West Virginia University
(304) 293-1410

Press Release

First atlas of geographic and racial and ethnic disparities in heart disease death rates for U.S. men released

The greatest burden for heart disease exists among African American men and among men residing in parts of the rural south, according to a new report, Men and Heart Disease: An Atlas of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Mortality, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and West Virginia University (WVU).

Men and Heart Disease provides a first-ever comprehensive look at the geographical and racial/ethnic disparities of heart disease deaths for U.S. men aged 35 years and older from 1991-1995. Researchers found that African American men are 26% more likely than white men, and almost twice as likely as Hispanic men to die of heart disease. In addition to suffering higher heart disease death rates, African American men are also more likely to die from heart disease at an early age than other men. An estimated 40% of heart deaths in African American men occurred before age 65, compared with 21% of heart deaths in white men.

"Too many men, particularly men of color, are dying from a disease that we know can be prevented by changing lifestyles and social conditions in communities, including access to affordable, heart-healthy foods and recreational facilities and jobs in healthy workplaces," said U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. "This atlas provides a valuable sense of perspective about the threat that heart disease poses to this nation's fathers, husbands, and brothers."

Men and Heart Disease is the companion to Women and Heart Disease: An Atlas of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Mortality released in February 2000. The atlas includes more than 200 national and state maps showing geographic patterns in heart disease death rates. Maps of local economic resources and availability of medical care provide information on the underlying community characteristics that can influence the opportunities men have to live heart-healthy lives.

"The beauty of both atlases is that they allow public health professionals and policymakers at the state level to compare their state's heart disease burden with other similar states," said CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan. "These state and racial/ethnic-specific data are especially critical when states are deciding how to target their funds to populations in greatest need of heart disease prevention services."

Men and Heart Disease estimates that the overall heart death rates among U.S. men were 675 per 100,000 from 1991-1995. Heart disease death rates for states ranged from 482 to 878 per 100,000. Higher rates of heart disease deaths occurred among men who live in parts of the rural South, including the Mississippi River Valley and Appalachian regions, than men living in most parts of the western United States and upper Midwest.

"The highest rates in death from heart disease for men are found in the regions of this country with the poorest economies and few health care resources, particularly in underdeveloped rural areas," said Elizabeth Barnett, PhD, director of the Office for Social Environment and Health Research at WVU, and lead author of the atlas. "High risks of heart disease are also concentrated in groups of men who have historically been socially disadvantaged, often as a result of racism and other forms of discrimination."

According to the atlas report, the national death rate from heart disease in African American men was 841 deaths per 100,000 population, followed by white men (666 deaths per 100,000), American Indian and Alaska Native men (465 per 100,000), and Asian and Pacific Islander men (372 per 100,000). The death rate for Hispanic men of all races was 432 per 100,000.

Men in most major cities had low to moderate heart disease death rates — except for New York City, which has some of the highest heart disease death rates in the country. African American men in New York City were found to have lower rates of heart disease than their counterparts in the rural Mississippi River valley.

Hispanic men had the highest rates of heart disease deaths in parts of the rural Southwest and the Miami metropolitan area. Relatively low heart disease death rates for Hispanic men were found in the Pacific Northwest and several large metropolitan areas, including Boston, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.

"This report shows that geography may determine the quality of cardiovascular health care available for men," said American Heart Association President Rose Marie Robertson, M.D. "Many rural areas lack hospital coronary care units and cardiac rehabilitation units, both of which have been shown to reduce the likelihood of death among people who have suffered heart attacks."

Copies of Men and Heart Disease are available free of charge from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Adult and Community Health, 4770 Buford Highway, N.E., Mail Stop K-47, Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3724 or by calling 1-888-232-2306. Additional information about Men and Heart Disease, including an online version of the document can be downloaded by visiting West Virginia University's ( and the CDC's ( Web sites. An interactive version of the report is also available at the CDC Web site.

CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.


Note to Editors: A media teleconference is scheduled from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, June 20. Media are invited to call 1-800-288-8975 to listen to remarks about the report and to participate in a question-and-answer session with the report's lead author Elizabeth Barnett, PhD, West Virginia University; George A. Mensah, MD, FACC, chief of CDC's Cardiovascular Health Program; and Rose Marie Robertson, MD, FACC, president of the American Heart Association.

A video news release (VNR) feed is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. (EST) and from 2:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, June 20, using Satellite: GE 5 (KU), Orbital Slot: 79 degrees WL, Uplink Frequency: 14409 (V), Transponder: 14, and Downlink Frequency: 12109 (H). The VNR is embargoed until 11 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, June 20, 2001. The VNR contains interview comments from U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and the report's lead author Elizabeth Barnett.

Elizabeth Barnett, Ph.D. (lead author of Men and Heart Disease) can be contacted at 304-288-3366. To contact American Heart Association (AHA) President Rose Marie Robertson, please contact Kelly Kennai at the AHA's press office: 202-785-7900.

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This page last reviewed June 20, 2001

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