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February is American Hearth Month: Stay healthy with the facts

February is American Hearth Month: Stay healthy with the facts

Posted: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 8:01 pm

America’s Heart Disease Burden

In 2006, 631,636 people died of heart disease. Heart disease caused 26 percent of deaths—more than one in every four—in the United States.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2006 were women.

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. 

In 2005, 445,687 people died from coronary heart disease.

Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks have another attack.

In 2010, heart disease will cost the United States $316.4 billion. 

This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

Deaths Vary by Geography

Across the United States, death rates due to heart disease in 2006 were highest in Mississippi and lowest in Minnesota.

Risk Prevention

For people with heart disease, studies have shown that lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, having a nonfatal heart attack or needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty.

For people without heart disease, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels can reduce the risk for developing heart disease.

Early Action is Key

In a 2005 survey, most respondents—92 percent —recognized chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack. Only 27 percent were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a heart attack.

About 47 percent of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This suggests that many people with heart disease don’t act on early warning signs.

In 2003, approximately 37 percent of adults reported having two or more of the risk factors listed above.

About Heart Attacks

If the blood supply to the heart is cut off, a heart attack results. Cells in the heart muscle that do not receive enough oxygen-carrying blood begin to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart. Having high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol, smoking, and having had a previous heart attack, stroke or diabetes can increase a person’s chances of developing heart disease and having a heart attack.

According to the American Heart Association, about 700,000 Americans will have an initial heart attack and another 500,000 will have a recurrent heart attack in 2004. Almost half of people who have a heart attack will die from it. 

According to a CDC report, almost half of the cardiac deaths in 1999 occurred before emergency services and hospital treatment could be administered.

It is important to recognize the signs of a heart attack and to act immediately by calling 911. 

A person’s chances of surviving a heart attack is increased if emergency treatment is administered as soon as possible.

CDC’s Public Health Efforts: CDC currently funds health departments in 32 states and the District of Columbia to develop, implement, and evaluate cardiovascular health promotion, disease prevention, and control programs and to eliminate health disparities. The programs emphasize the use of education, policies, environmental strategies, and system changes to address heart disease and stroke in various settings and to ensure quality of care. 

For more information, visit

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

The National Heart Attack Alert Program notes these major signs of a heart attack:

Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

Shortness of breath. Often comes along with chest discomfort. But it also can occur before chest discomfort.

Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.

If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, you should call 911 immediately.

For More Information

For more information on heart disease visit our Web site at and the Web sites of the following CDC partners: American Heart Association, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Heart Attack Alert Program.


wcp 2/08/11