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CDC: Heart disease prevalence down
October 13th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

CDC: Heart disease prevalence down

The prevalence of heart disease in the United States is declining, though rates vary widely depending on gender, race, education and geography, according to new figures released by the government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the prevalence of coronary heart disease decreased from 6.7% to 6.0% from 2006 to 2010. The results, based on a national telephone survey, were published Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"That’s a very significant decline, from 6.7% to 6%  in five years,” said Dr. Jerome Cohen, a board member of the National Lipid Association and professor emeritus in preventive cardiology at St. Louis University.

“The bottom line is good news and bad news,” Cohen added. “It shows what we can do [with treatment]. How we can do better is also shown by the wide disparities.”

Men, American Indians and native Alaskans, those with less than a high school education, and Southerners had significantly higher rates of heart disease, according to the CDC report.

Women, Asian, Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders, those with advanced degrees, and residents in Hawaii and Connecticut had the lowest rates.

Cohen said access to care, lifestyle and education were all factors in these disparities.

Lead author Dr. Jing Fang said the decrease in prevalence of heart disease was consistent with a decline in high-risk populations: People with uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled LDL (bad) cholesterol, and smokers.

Last month, the CDC reported that these factors had declined significantly from 2000 to 2008, though a worrisome 50% of all Americans still have one of these major risk factors for heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer.

Among the CDC’s findings:

– The prevalence of heart disease among men in 2010 was 7.8%, compared with 4.6% for women.

– Some 11.6% of American Indians and native Alaskans reported having coronary heart disease; that figure was 6.5% for blacks, 6.1% for Hispanics, 5.8% for whites, and 3.9% for Asians, Hawaiians and Pacific islanders.

– Among people with less than a high school diploma, 9.2% reported having heart disease, compared with 4.6% with more than a college degree.

– Comparing states: Kentucky (8.2%) and West Virginia (8.0%) had the highest prevalence of heart disease. Hawaii (3.7%) and Connecticut (4.4%) had the lowest.

In the report, the CDC researchers conceded that the telephone survey relied on “self-reporting” but said this should not affect year-to-year comparisons.

The telephone survey did not include people who were living in institutions such as nursing homes and only included people with landlines. Also, the survey was conducted in English and Spanish, excluding those who speak only other languages.


soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Mike

    No wonder-
    People can't afford to eat out and consume rich, fatty, salty restaurant food . . .

    October 13, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ser

      really then why is the obesity epidemic skyrocketing and Mcdonalds and all the other joints just keep getting richer and richer while the economy gets worse and worse...you are not to bright

      October 14, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • justthefacts

      People can't afford organic foods and produce with the high cost of groceries these days either. So what are they eating? Hungry Man dinners (processed food) and McDonald's! Sorry. When times are tough, people have to eat cheap crap!

      October 14, 2011 at 23:00 | Report abuse |
  2. gager

    A telephone survey? You got to be kidding. The report has no credibility for accuracy.

    October 13, 2011 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      Actually, the accuracy of the study can be calculated from the sample size, which isn't given in the article. But it doesn't take huge numbers of respondents to arrive at a statistically meaningful result: only 1000 people, selected at random, will yield results within 3% of the actual value. And as noted in the article, this is a study done year to year that is designed to measure trends rather than absolute numbers. The 10% drop reported is statistically significant even if the study was very small.

      October 15, 2011 at 19:14 | Report abuse |
    • gober

      I used to be a researcher for these studies at the CRDA and trust me when I tell you that you'll be surprised what questions people will answer on the phone. I've manage to successfully have people tell me about how much pot they smoked, about their rape experiences and I've successfully completed 99% of my interviews even when they refused the first few times. In the end, when you explain to them that it is the most accurate method of data collection, they eventually cooperate.

      October 15, 2011 at 19:46 | Report abuse |
    • D

      I know almost nothing about statistics, but you would think that there has to be some sort of a selection bias given that they are only looking at people who can afford to keep a landline. There is no number of people sampled given and no standard deviation given. Bad article. We shouldn't have to look up the original study to get these numbers. As it stands, it looks highly suspect to me.

      October 16, 2011 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
  3. Jeanine

    Coincidentally, there are a larger number of the population who are eating vegan or vegeterian diets which are free from cholesterol.

    If slaughterhouses had windows, everyone would be a vegetarian.

    October 13, 2011 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • justthefacts

      lol! So true!

      October 14, 2011 at 22:54 | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      The link between diet and serum cholesterol is not very firm. There are people who eat extremely low cholesterol diets who have extremely high serum cholesterol, and the opposite is also true. Among those with high serum cholesterol, reducing dietary sources of cholesterol has decidedly mixed results – if serum cholesterol lowers at all, the reduction is very small relative to the reduction in dietary sources. And heart disease is a broad term; not all heart disease is a result of cholesterolic plaques.

      October 15, 2011 at 19:25 | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    Remember the circle of life..No one gets out alive.

    October 13, 2011 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rick

      Exactly Bob. Wish we could get together over some Jack Daniels and a couple of great steaks to talk about it more.

      October 14, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse |
  5. Rodeoguy

    Evidence that NY Citys war on trans fats and sodium actually work, See the government should regulate everything we eat because they know whats best for us.

    October 14, 2011 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. gsxrgirl1

    Telephone survey? Really? I am not sure how this actually would work to gauge heart disease?? The rate HAS to be higher than 6%...that seems low considering the terrible American diet. I agree, everyone would be vegan/vegetarian if they could see inside a slaughterhouse. Just clever marketing that meat/dairy are "healthy" and "good for you." Not too many people stop to think that diet is probably one of the biggest contributors to disease in the US. A scientist's magic potion isn't always the answer.

    October 14, 2011 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. The_Mick

    I agree with those saying that telephone surveys are not very accurate. But they may be accurate enough that a telephone survey in one year can be compared to a telephone survey in another year since there is no change in societal reasoning that would make people less likely to give an accurate report one year compared to the next. It would seem to me that the CDC should have a database about how many people were treated for heart disease. That would tell more about people who can afford health care.

    October 14, 2011 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. justthefacts

    Not sure how reliable this telephone survey is............can we see the statistics and figures on the number of MORBIDLY obese people there are in the U.S.? If it's less than 50%, then I'll believe the survey. But by all visual accounts, it's more like 70% or more. People need to get exercising, and stop stuffing their faces. Then we will see a LARGE drop in heart disease, and financial strain on our medical system. People today are too fat – period. I am 5'7" and weigh 130 lbs. Considered fit. And I still have hypertension! But I work out EVERY day, keep my weight under control, in order to stay off medication and not be a burden to the health system. You can't tell me that heart disease rates are down, when I am a fit person, and 70% plus of the U.S. Population are walking refrigerators! Give me a break!

    October 14, 2011 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      Why? Obesity certainly is a major factor in heart disease, but it doesn't follow that everyone who is obese has heart disease. The actual rates are quite low overall; it's just that the rate for the obese is significantly higher than it is for others. The same is true for smoking; although smoking is the major contributor to lung cancer, the overall RATES for lung cancer among smokers is only about 25 to 30 per 100,000; the rate for non-smokers, though, is only about 2 per 100,000. So the rates are extremely low, but the RELATIVE rates are very different.

      October 15, 2011 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Unlike cholesterol, there is a TON of evidence-based medicine supporting use of medication to control blood pressure. If it is not under control, you should seriously look into medication. The cholesterol thing is a sham, in my opinion.

      October 16, 2011 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
  9. M.J.Barrett

    A review of state by state death certificates is a far better way to judge how we as American's die.
    I think the reduction of cigarette smoking is a big factor,however the use of Statin drugs even for
    fat people plays a large role in arterial plaque reduction ,but still there is little we can do to see the blockage
    of the "widow maker" artery ,that now is a killer to think about when eating the next burger or steak.

    October 14, 2011 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      The problem with statins is they are pushing them on everyone regardless of age, gender or weight, when there is not good scientific data on certain subpopulations.

      October 16, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
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    October 15, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karens

      You're obviously a complete idiot and your comment is not subject-related at all. Why don't you find something else to do today for a change?

      October 17, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
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