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Heart Disease and Stroke

Narrative

Cardiovascular disease is an abnormal function of the heart and blood vessels. Coronary heart disease and stroke are the most common forms of cardiovascular disease and are the first and third leading causes of death for both men and women in the United States.1 Risk factors for both include high blood pressure and cholesterol, excess weight, physical inactivity, age, and family history. Stroke involves blocked blood flow to the brain, whereas coronary heart disease involves reduced blood flow to the heart, which can result in a heart attack. Chest pain is a common heart attack symptom but women are more likely than men to have other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.2 Stroke symptoms can include numbness, headache, dizziness, and blurred vision.

In 2007–2009, men were more likely than women to have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease (5.7 versus 3.1 percent, respectively). However, this difference was significant only among non-Hispanic Whites. The proportion of women with coronary heart disease was higher among non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black women (3.4 and 3.3 percent, respectively) than among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Asian women (2.2 and 1.9 percent, respectively).

In 2007–2009, the percentage of adults reporting that they had ever been diagnosed with a stroke was slightly higher among women than men (2.9 versus 2.4 percent, respectively). Among both men and women, the proportion of persons ever having had a stroke was higher among those with lower household incomes. For example, among women, those with household incomes below 200 percent of poverty are more than twice as likely to have had a stroke as those with household incomes of 400 percent or more of poverty (4.1 versus 1.7 percent, respectively).

There is evidence that women diagnosed with cardiovascular disease are less likely than men to receive certain treatments that have been reported to improve outcomes. For reasons that are poorly understood, 42 percent of women will die within a year of having a heart attack compared to 24 percent of men.3 Although differences in treatment may contribute, women also tend to get heart disease at older ages than men and they are more likely to have other chronic conditions.

1 Cardiovascular Disease Foundation.External Web Site Policy What is Cardiovascular Disease? Accessed 2/20/11.
2 American Heart Association.External Web Site Policy Warning signs of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Accessed 09/13/11.
3 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Cardiovascular Disease and other Chronic Conditions in Women: Recent Findings. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AHRQ; December 2010. AHRQ Pub. No. 11-P003. Accessed 02/20/11.

Graphs

Data

Adults Aged 18 and Older with Coronary Heart Disease,* by Race/Ethnicity** and Sex, 2007–2009
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Adults
Female Male
*Reported a health professional had ever told them that they had coronary heart disease. Rates reported are not age-adjusted.
**The sample of American Indian/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders was too small to produce reliable results.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2007-2009. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Information Resource Center.
Non-Hispanic White 3.4 6.9
Non-Hispanic Black 3.3 3.7
Hispanic 2.2 2.4
Non-Hispanic Asian 1.9 3.0
Non-Hispanic Multiple Race 2.4 5.4
Total 3.1 5.7
Adults Aged 18 and Older Who Have Had a Stroke,* by Poverty Status** and Sex, 2007–2009
Poverty Status Percent of Adults
Female Male
*Reported a health professional had ever told them that they had a stroke. Rates reported are not age-adjusted.
**Poverty level, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, was $21,954 for a family of four in 2009.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2007-2009. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Information Resource Center.
Less Than 200% of Poverty 4.1 3.6
200-399% of Poverty 2.6 2.6
400% or More of Poverty 1.7 1.3
Total 2.9 2.4

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