Heart Disease Rates Vary Widely Across U.S.

Prevalence similar among whites, blacks and Hispanics, study finds

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THURSDAY, Feb. 15, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of coronary heart disease, heart attack and angina vary widely across U.S. states and territories, a new, first-of-its-kind federal study found.

Coronary heart disease is a narrowing of arteries that supply blood to the heart. Angina is chest pain that occurs when the heart doesn't receive enough blood. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Rates of any of the three conditions ranged from 3.5 percent in the U.S. Virgin Islands to 10.4 percent in West Virginia. For heart attack alone, rates ranged from 2.1 percent in the U.S. Virgin Islands to 6.1 percent in West Virginia.

The findings were based on an analysis of 2005 data collected through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System -- a random phone survey of adults conducted by state and territorial health departments.

Overall, about 6.5 percent of respondents said that a health-care professional had told them they had one or more of the three heart conditions. Four percent said they had had a heart attack, and 4.4 percent said they had angina or coronary heart disease.

Areas with the lowest levels of these three heart problems were: Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Rates were highest in: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

The study also found that men had higher rates of coronary heart disease and non-fatal heart attack and angina than women (8.2 percent vs. 5 percent). Asians had the lowest rates of heart disease (4.7 percent), while American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest rates (11.2 percent).

Heart disease rates were similar among whites (6.9 percent), blacks (6.2 percent) and Hispanics (6.2 percent). People with fewer than 12 years of education had higher rates of heart disease than college graduates (9.8 percent vs. 5 percent).

The results are published in the Feb. 16 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"These findings show the importance of preventing and controlling known risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, tobacco use, physical inactivity, type 2 diabetes, and obesity," study lead author Jonathan Neyer, an epidemiologist in CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, said in a prepared statement.

"We hope this report will help states and U.S. territories better tailor their heart disease prevention efforts," he said.

More information

The American Medical Association details lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart disease.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Feb. 15, 2007

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