If you think about it, the human heart is essentially just a pump, but it’s also one of the most, if not, the most vital organ in the body. With each beat, the heart muscle works to circulate needed materials—oxygen and nutrients—throughout the body through blood. If it breaks down or becomes clogged, the result can be devastating. Consider the following report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on America’s heart disease burden:
• About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
• Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
• Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
• Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack. 325,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
More Staggering Statistics – What Women May Not Know
Alarmingly, heart disease causes 1 in every 3 women’s deaths each year. It kills approximately 1 woman every minute, making it the number 1 killer of women over all forms of cancer combined. According to the American Heart Association, 90% of women have 1 or more risk factors for developing heart disease, and an estimated 43 million women are affected by it in the U.S. each year. A risk factor common among Hispanic women is carrying extra weight (leading to high blood pressure), while diabetes, another risk factor, is almost two times more prevalent in black women than non-Hispanic white women. An estimated 50,000 black women die from cardiovascular disease each year, and of black women age 20 and older, 49% have heart disease.
The Good News
The good news is lifestyle changes, regular check-ups, and advancements in health care procedures and medications can all work together to fight heart disease. In fact, all of these measures combined contribute to the fact that from 1999 to 2009, the cardiovascular disease (CVD) death rate declined by 33% in the U.S.
If you have a history of heart disease in your family, don’t wait to contact your doctor, begin making healthy life decisions, and learning everything you can about how to stay heart-healthy. Begin now by reading this special heart section, which includes pertinent information on several important issues associated with heart disease, as well as tips for living a heart-healthy life.