Heart Disease & Stroke

Updated September 28, 2021

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD, or ischemic heart disease), which can lead to heart attack. A heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction, happens when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is severely reduced or stopped. Several factors can be involved in the increased risk for heart disease. These factors can include health conditions, lifestyle risk factors, genetic and family history, and environment.

A stroke (or brain attack) involves brain damage from a blood vessel in the brain bursting or the occurrence of a blood supply blockage affecting a portion of the brain. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. There are life-saving treatments for stroke, but patients must receive them in a timely manner.

We Track That

The Tracking Network uses data from the U.S. Census Bureauexternal icon, hospital and emergency department databases provided by state and/or local health departments, and death certificates from the National Center for Health Statistics to calculate state and local data about heart disease. Estimates of prevalence of heart attacks and ischemic heart disease are largely based on survey samples (e.g., National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and National Ambulatory Care Survey) or large cohort studies such as the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

Stroke systems of care data come from state and DC statutes, regulations and legislation collected through WestlawNextexternal icon to analyze pre-hospital and in-hospital care which have been proposed to improve access to time-sensitive, lifesaving treatments for stroke. Certified stroke center data were obtained directly from The Joint Commissionexternal icon, the Det Norske Veritas, and via Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) certification data.

Types of Data

These indicators provide information about health effects due to heart disease and stroke systems of care that informed policy interventions. These data will allow for monitoring of trends over time and have the potential to identify high risk groups not reflected in current national data. These data may also inform prevention, evaluation, program planning efforts, and policy interventions.

Heart Attack and Stroke Hospitalizations
These indicators estimate the number and rate of people who were admitted to the hospital due to heart attack or stroke. They can be used to identify trends and patterns in hospitalizations due to heart attacks or strokes. They can also be used to help estimate the number of hospital admissions for either heart attacks or strokes. These data come from hospitals, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Servicesexternal icon, and CDC’s Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke.

Mortality from Heart Attack, Ischemic Heart Disease, and Stroke
These indicators used data collected by vital records from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and CDC’s Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke. Data can be used to identify trends and patterns in the mortality of ischemic heart disease, heart attacks, or stroke.

Heart Disease Mortality
This indicator includes vital records data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. This data can be used to identify trends in the mortality of heart disease (heart attack, coronary heart disease).

Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke Prevalence
These indicators include data on the crude and age-adjusted rate of coronary heart disease and the prevalence of adults ever diagnosed with stroke. These data can be used to identify patterns and monitor trends over time, conduct further analysis by linking with other data, and enhance prevention, education, and evaluation efforts. Data are collected from the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), the 2010 Census population, and from CDC’s Population Level Analysis and Community Estimates (PLACES) Project.

Stroke Systems of Care
Stroke systems of care policies addressing prehospital and in-hospital care have been proposed to improve access to time-sensitive, lifesaving treatments for stroke. Policy surveillance of stroke systems of care laws supported by best available evidence can reveal potential strengths and weaknesses in how stroke care delivery is regulated across the nation. These data include:

  • Stroke Systems of Care: Pre-hospital Policy Interventions
  • Stroke Systems of Care: In-hospital Policy Interventions
  • Stroke Systems of Care: Legal Authorities and Organizational Framework
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Data in Action

Tracking heart disease and stroke systems of care will help with:

  • examination of time trends;
  • identification of any seasonal patterns;
  • assessment of geographic differences;
  • evaluation of differences in heart disease by age, gender, and race/ethnicity;
  • determination of populations in need of targeted interventions;
  • determination of changes in law over time;
  • determination of when select states and DC stroke systems of care policy interventions became effective, sunset, or repealed between 1999 and 2018;
  • planning for a state stroke policy that addresses multiple evidence-informed policy interventions to improve stroke care;
  • driving development or implementation of state stroke systems of care laws and policy; and
  • identifying gaps in how state law integrates stroke system care policies that warrant further study.

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Page last reviewed: September 28, 2021