December 15th, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: AHA Releases Update of Heart and Stroke Statistics

Once again, statistics on the cardiovascular health of the United States portray a complicated picture of improvement and decline. On the one hand, deaths from cardiovascular disease continue to decline. On the other hand, ominous trends, many stemming from the increase in obesity, suggest that the good news may not last much longer. The full picture is contained in the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2012 Update, published in Circulation.

Here are a few key items from the update:

  • The overall rate of death attributable to CV disease in 2008 was 244.8 per 100,000.
  • CV disease accounted for one third (32.8%) of all deaths.
  • Deaths from CV disease declined by 30.6% from 1998 to 2008.
  • One third of deaths from CV occur before the age of 75.
  • One in nine death certificates mentions heart failure.
  • One third (33.5%) of U.S. adults have hypertension.
  • Some 21.2% of adult men and 17.5% of adult women smoke cigarettes.
  • Fifteen percent of U.S. adults have total serum cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or greater.
  • Eight percent of the adult population has diagnosed diabetes, while more than a third of the population (36.8%) has abnormal fasting glucose levels.
  • Two thirds of U.S. adults (67.3%) are overweight or obese.
  • One third of children (31.7%) are overweight or obese.

6 Responses to “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: AHA Releases Update of Heart and Stroke Statistics”

  1. David Kaufman, MD says:

    Well well well. I wonder if any our idiot politicians in Washington have reviewed these statistics. It should seem obvious, even to a pre-med student, that cutting healthcare dollars, reducing access and benefits will simply create more illness, more prematurely dead people. But wait, maybe that’s the point: dead people don’t utilize healthcare resources…Can you imagine for just one moment what might happen if we actually INCREASED spending for healthcare, social services, nutrition and lifestyle education,etc? Do you think THAT might decrease overall utilization and cost? Do you think healthier people might use less healthcare resources? Instead Congress refuses to allow healthier school lunches, cuts services, cuts medicaid, dodges gun control, and basically ignores the mindboggling statistics quoted above. Required reading for all: and

    Competing interests pertaining specifically to this post, comment, or both:
    I am a angry/discouraged/saddened general internist in NYC with no financial conflicts of interest, but very conflicted about the state of our nation, our healthcare system, and our profession.

  2. Dan Hackam, MD PhD says:

    Dr Kaufman, I could not agree more with your points. With respect to lifestyle education, my belief is that widespread carbohydrate restriction would defeat both the cancer and cardiovascular disease epidemics, as well as having salutary benefits for osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cholelithiasis, and many other chronic degenerative diseases of Western society.

    Competing interests pertaining specifically to this post, comment, or both:
    Someone who has read Gary Taubes: “Why we get fat: and what to do about it”.

  3. Edgar Abovich, MD says:

    I agree with both of you except I don’t think(and suspect you really don’t too) that politicians are idiots. They have their own agendas and that trumps public interests.

    Competing interests pertaining specifically to this post, comment, or both:

  4. Of the 30.6% decline in CV disease mortality do we know if that survival was translated to other mortality causation(did total mortality go down proportionately?), better quality years led, more economic productivity, or less cost of care expenditures? Certainly, reduction of CV disease mortality does not lead to immortality. I will refer you to a recent PERSPECTIVE article in the December 14 edition of the NEJM entitled “The Savings Illusion- Why Clinical Quality Improvement Fails To Create Bottom Line Results” by Rah et al. The- improved quality reduced cost- bubble may have burst.

  5. Tina Dobsevage, MD says:

    I agree with Dr. Kaufman that public policy or lack thereof is leading to the decline in population health: increasing obesity, diabetes, violent death. Clearly major changes in national agricultural policy, and increased funding of public school systems so kids eat well, still have gym and art and music programs would go a long way to improving the health of the nation.
    What we need in this country is a non profit health care system, that provides basic health care to all.

    Competing interests pertaining specifically to this post, comment, or both:
    No conflicts of interest. Like Dr. Kaufman I am a general internist in NYC discouraged by the health care market that supports corporate profits and is worse than a poor stand in for a true health care system for all.

  6. David Kaufman, MD says:

    It’s true. I don’t really believe the politicians are idiots. It’s worse than that. As one writer said, they have their own very personal agendas, narrow self serving vision, and recently all too mean spirited. I read a NYT book review recently–can’t remember the book, bad sign I guess–basically stating that the single biggest problem our country faced was our campaign financing system which has allowed special interests, phenomenally wealthy individuals and corporations to essentially take control of our country. Ponder the truth of that.