In a recent review published in the journal Traffic, researchers provide the latest statistics on heart disease (HD), stroke, and cardiovascular risk factors, with a focus on promoting health equity and addressing structural racism in healthcare.
Annually, the American Heart Association (AHA) in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) releases comprehensive statistics on Huntington, stroke, and associated risk factors. This includes data on health behaviors such as smoking and obesity, as well as various heart and circulatory diseases and their impact on health care quality and costs.
Almost a century later, the AHA continues to update these statistics annually, providing essential information on cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), their prevalence, and impact. The report has evolved into a comprehensive resource that aids various stakeholders, including the public, policymakers, media, clinicians, and researchers. This information not only informs policy development and resource allocation but also determines cardiovascular research priorities.
However, continuous research is crucial to updating and enhancing our understanding of cardiovascular diseases, ultimately improving prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies.
Cardiovascular Health and Risk Factors
Since 1921, Huntington’s disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. However, significant progress has been made in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease over the past century. For example, mortality rates related to cardiovascular diseases have decreased by 60% since 1950, with the number of people dying from a heart attack in the US decreasing from one in two to one in eight.
Despite these advances, the prevalence of several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including diabetes, population aging, and health disparities, continues to rise. As of now, an estimated 48.6% of the US population aged over 20 years is affected by cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or high blood pressure. Communities most affected by cardiovascular diseases include non-Hispanic black women and men, with 59% currently living with cardiovascular diseases.
Although cigarette consumption among youths and adults in the US has declined overall in the past two decades, significant disparities still exist. While 1.8% of Hispanic and non-Hispanic white youths currently smoke cigarettes, approximately 2.3% of non-Hispanic multiracial youths report using cigarettes in the past 30 days. Remarkably, this decline in cigarette consumption contrasts sharply with the rise in adolescent users of electronic cigarettes, which has increased from 3.3% to 14.1%.
Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Weight
Examining the level of physical activity reveals that a concerning percentage of the population does not meet recommended exercise guidelines. Reports show that between 2020 and 2021, approximately 20.5% of children aged six to 17 years were active for 60 minutes or more each day. Similarly, in 2020, only about 24.2% of adults met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity for Americans.
Nutrition is another critical area highlighted in the report, emphasizing the generally poor eating habits in the US and their impact on cardiovascular health. Various social and environmental factors that demonstrably affect diet quality include education, income, race and ethnic background, neighborhood supermarket availability, and food costs.
Together, these factors significantly influence the prevalence of overweight and obesity, both major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, which remain prevalent among a substantial part of the US population. As of March 2020, approximately 71.2% of US adults aged 20 and older were categorized as overweight or obese, while about 20% of youths aged two to 19 years were considered obese.
Related Health Conditions and Diseases
Congenital heart defects, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking account for 52% of heart failure cases in the US. The prevalence of diabetes in the US varies significantly by gender and ethnic background, with the current diagnosis rate being 7.7% among non-Hispanic white females compared to 14.5% among Hispanic males.
Despite the direct link between diabetes and cardiovascular deaths, currently less than 20% of US adults with diabetes achieve their target levels for hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Recently, sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists have been shown to be highly effective diabetes medications that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, yet these medications are still underutilized.
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome among US adults has increased significantly since 1999, rising from 36.2% to 47.3% in 2018, with the highest prevalence of metabolic syndrome reported among Mexican American adults at 52.2%. Notable risk factors for metabolic syndrome include lower levels of education and income.
The current report also identifies various other health conditions and their impact on CVD risk, including cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke, pregnancy, congenital heart defects, Kawasaki disease, kidney diseases, atherosclerosis, heart valve diseases, peripheral arterial diseases, and aortic diseases.
The Role of AHA in Promoting Cardiovascular Health
The AHA continues to advance science and innovation, advocate for patient rights, and strive for healthier communities worldwide. Understanding past and current trends enables the report to aid researchers worldwide in developing effective strategies to combat heart disease and stroke. The AHA remains committed to being a force for a world with a longer, healthier life, promoting health and hope for everyone everywhere.
- Martin, SS, Aday, AW, Almarzooq, ZI, et al. (2024). Statistics on heart disease and strokes: A report on US and global data from the American Heart Association. Traffic. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000001209