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Women's Health USA 2013 An illustrated collection of current and historical data, published annually.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Narrative

Heart disease and stroke are the most common forms of cardiovascular disease1 and are the first and third leading causes of death for women in the United States (more at Leading Causes of Death). It is estimated that nearly one-fourth of all cardiovascular deaths are preventable through lifestyle modifications and medications, such as aspirin, when appropriate.2

Risk factors for both heart disease and stroke include high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, excess weight, physical inactivity, age, smoking, and family history. Stroke involves blocked 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.3 Stroke symptoms can include numbness, headache, dizziness, confusion, trouble speaking, and blurred vision.4

In 2009–2011, men were slightly more likely than women to report having been diagnosed with heart disease (12.8 versus 10.2 percent, respectively). Non-Hispanic Asian and Hispanic women were less likely to have been diagnosed with heart disease (5.7 and 8.3 percent, respectively) than women of other race and ethnic groups. Heart disease increases with age and was reported by one in five women aged 65–74 years and one in three women aged 75 years and older (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

In 2009–2011, 2.6 percent of both women and men reported that they had ever been diagnosed with a stroke. Among women and men, the likelihood of having had a stroke was higher among those with lower household income. For example, 4.5 percent of women with household incomes below the poverty level reported having a stroke, compared to 1.8 percent of those with household incomes of 400 percent or more of poverty. Similar to heart disease, stroke also increases with age and was reported by 6.1 percent of women aged 65–74 years old and 10.9 percent of women aged 75 years and older (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

1 Cardiovascular Disease Foundation link leaves hrsa.gov site. What is Cardiovascular Disease? Accessed 09/16/13.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link leaves hrsa.gov site. Vital Signs: Avoidable Deaths from Heart Disease, Stroke, and Hypertensive Disease, United States 2001-2010. MMWR. 2013;62:721-727.

3 American Heart Association link leaves hrsa.gov site. Heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest warning signs. Accessed 09/13/13.

4 American Heart Association link leaves hrsa.gov site. Heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest warning signs. Accessed 09/13/13.

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Graphs

Data

Heart Disease* Among Adults Aged 18 and Older, by Race/Ethnicity** and Sex, 2009-2011
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Adults, Female Percent of Adults, Male
*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; all estimates are age-adjusted.
**The sample of Native Hawaiian/Other 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, 2009-2011. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Non-Hispanic White 10.7 13.7
Non-Hispanic Black 10.9 11.2
Hispanic 8.3 8.6
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 12.3 9.9
Non-Hispanic Asian 5.7 8.5
Non-Hispanic Multiple Race 17.0 16.1
Total 10.2 12.8
Stroke* Among Adults Aged 18 and Older, by Poverty Level** and Sex, 2009-2011
Poverty Level Percent of Adults, Female Percent of Adults, Male
*Reported a health professional had ever told them that they had a stroke; estimates are age-adjusted.
**Poverty level, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, was $23,021 for a family of four in 2011.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2009-2011. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Less than 100% of Poverty 4.5 4.6
100-199% of Poverty 3.4 3.8
200-399% of Poverty 2.4 2.7
400% of Poverty or More 1.8 1.5
Total 2.6 2.6