Resource Article for June: Heart and Stroke Statistics

June 13, 2008 by  

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Today, let’s have a look at figures and statistics on heart and stroke that we can ponder upon:

United States

According the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), heart disease is the number one killer in the US [1].

  • 28 % of all American deaths in 2002 were due to heart disease. More than half of those who died were women. The age-adjusted rate was 241 deaths per 100,000 population.
  • Heart disease doesn`t recognize ethnic differences. Your ethnicity doesn`t count. It is the top killer among whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians and second among Asians and Pacific Islanders.
  • The main type of heart disease that kills people is coronary heart disease, which accounts for 71 % of all deaths.
  • In 2006, health care cost projection for heart disease was $258 billion, which includes costs for health care services, drugs, and lost productivity.
  • From 1979 to 2005, there was a 484 % increase in the number of inpatient cardiovascular procedures and interventions.

There are differences in prevalence of heart diseases between states and territories. According to a survey [2] by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFFS) in 2005, the prevalence of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and angina pectoris (chest pains) were highest in West Virginia and Puerto Rico and lowest in the US Virgin Islands and Colorado. The figure [2] shows the

Self-reported prevalence of history of myocardial infarction or angina/coronary heart disdesease among adults aged ≥ 18 years – Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2005.


According to the European Heart Network 2008 cardiovascular disease statistics [3]:

  • Cardiovascular diseases cause over 2 million deaths in the European Union and 4.3 million deaths all over Europe. This accounts for almost half (48 %) of deaths in the continent.
  • More women die from cardiovascular diseases than men. Cardiovascular diseases could account for 45 % of female deaths and 38 % of all deaths in men in Europe.
  • Cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of deaths among females in all countries in Europe. It is also the main cause of deaths among men except in France, the Netherlands, and Spain.
  • Death rates from coronary heart disease are highest in Central and Eastern Europe than other parts of the continent; so are death rates from stroke. The incidence of cardiovascular diseases continues to rise in these regions.
  • The overall cost of cardiovascular diseases to the European Union economy is estimated at €192 billion each year.


Worldwide, heart diseases and stroke are also found to be the leading causes of death. It is estimated that 7.1 million people worldwide die of heart disease each year. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia did an extensive study [4] on mortalities worldwide. About 56 million people died in 2001. Sadly, 10.6 of these were children in low- and middle-income countries.

The researchers found that although causes of death varied depending on the countries` economic status, ischemic heart disease and cardiovascular disease were the top killers in all countries regardless of income. In low- and middle-income countries, 11.8 % and 9.5 % of mortalities were due to heart and cardiovascular diseases, respectively. The figures were slightly higher for high-income countries – 17.3 % died of heart disease and 9.9 % died of cardiovascular diseases [4].

In a commentary in the Lancet, Kim Eagle writes [5]:

“While the mortality associated with cardiovascular disease seems to be declining in western Europe and North America, the burden of cardiovascular diseases in developing countries continues to rise and is expected to be a major cause of death in adults from low-income and middle-income countries worldwide.”

In particular, South Asia is of major concern. A recent BBC report warns about increasing rates of heart diseases in India. Based on a study by Canadian and Indian researchers and published in the journal Lancet [6], it is estimated that India will account for 60 % of cases of heart diseases worldwide in the next two years.

“South Asians have a greater prevalence of coronary risk factors than the rest of the world, and coronary artery disease often manifests at an early age which creates unusual pressure on society and the economy.”


[1] CDC fact sheet on heart disease in the US

[2] Neyer JR, et al. Prevalence of heart disease-United States, 2005. Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report 2007; 56:113-118..

[3]European Heart Network. European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2008

[4] Lopez, A. et al. Global and regional burden of disease and risk factors, 2001: systematic analysis of population health data. The Lancet, May 27, 2006; vol 367: pp 1747-1757

[5] Eagle, K. Coronary artery disease in India: challenges and opportunities. The Lancet April 2008; 371:1394-1395.

[6] Xavier et al. Treatment and outcomes of acute coronary syndromes in India (CREATE): a prospective analysis of registry data. The Lancet April 2008; 371:1435-1442.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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