American Heart Association Annual Stats: Yet Again, CVD Is the Leading Killer

The annual statistical report, which draws on a number of sources, offers a gloomy picture of CVD prevalence in the US and worldwide.

Annual statistics released today from the American Heart Association (AHA) confirm that cardiovascular diseases, collectively, remain the leading cause of death in the US and elsewhere in the world. According to a press release, the latest numbers show no major shifts across the different demographics studied.

The annual stats, published this week in Circulation, draw on the most recently available data from the AHA, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other governmental agencies.

Among the striking figures in the report:

  • Cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, and stroke, is listed as the underlying cause of death for one out of every three deaths in the United States or an average of one death every 40 seconds. It is also the leading cause of death around the world, killing an estimated 17.3 million people in 2013.
  • Direct and indirect costs of CVD in the United States, including lost productivity as well as healthcare costs, total more than $316 billion annually.
  • Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of CVD deaths at 45.1% followed by stroke (16.5%), hypertension (9.1%), and heart failure (8.5%).
  • Almost half of all non-Hispanic black adults have some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • Mean LDL cholesterol levels have declined from 126.2 mg/dL in 1999-2000 to 111.3 mg/dL in 2013-2014.
  • One in three US adults do not engage in any leisure-time physical activity.
  • The prevalence of obesity in the US has risen from 30.5% in 1999-2000 to 37.7% in 2013-2014. Worldwide as of 2013, 38.0% of adults were overweight or obese.
  • Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2017 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;Epub ahead of print.

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