Heart Disease and Stroke
Cardiovascular disease is the abnormal functioning of the heart and blood vessels. 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 interrupted blood flow to the brain, whereas heart disease involves reduced blood flow to the heart, which can result in a heart attack. Chest pain is a common heart attack symptom; however, women are more likely than men to have other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.1 Stroke symptoms can include numbness, headache, dizziness, confusion, trouble speaking, and blurred vision.2
In 2008–2010, 11.8 percent of adults reported a diagnosis of heart disease (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). Overall, men were slightly more likely to have been diagnosed with heart disease (12.8 versus 10.6 percent, respectively). Heart disease increases with age; among women, heart disease ranged from 4.7 percent of those aged 18–44 years to 32.2 percent of those aged 75 and older. As age increases, men are substantially more likely than women to have heart disease. Almost half (46.1 percent) of all men aged 75 and older have been diagnosed with heart disease.
In 2008–2010, similar percentages of women and men reported that they had ever been diagnosed with a stroke (2.6 and 2.7 percent, respectively). Among both women and men, the proportion of persons ever having had a stroke was generally higher among non-Hispanic Blacks. For example, 4.1 percent of non-Hispanic Black women had reported having a stroke compared to 2.5 percent of non-Hispanic White women and 2.6 percent of Hispanic women. Non-Hispanic Asian women were least likely to report having had a stroke (1.1 percent).
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 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, and women may also be more likely to have other chronic conditions.3
1 Cardiovascular Disease Foundation. What is Cardiovascular Disease? Accessed 10/31/12.<
2 American Heart Association. Warning signs of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Accessed 10/31/12.
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; Dec 2010. AHRQ Pub. No. 11-P003. Accessed 10/31/12.
|Age||Percent of Adults|
|*Reported a health professional had ever told them that they had coronary heart disease, angina pectoris, heart attack, or any other heart condition or disease; total estimates are age-adjusted. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey with multiply imputed poverty data, 2008-2010. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.|
|75 Years and older||32.2||46.1|
|Race/Ethnicity||Percent of Adults|
|*Reported a health professional had ever told them that they had a stroke; estimates are 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 with multiply imputed poverty data, 2008-2010. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
|Non-Hispanic Multiple Race||3.6||3.3|