Is Cardiovascular and Closely Related Disease Steadily Becoming Pandemic?

Cardiovascular disease

A pandemic is defined as almost anything that increased in and appeared to spread within or among groups of people, such as smoking, traffic accidents, factory closings, and even fear (Moren, Folkers and Fauci). The proliferation of cardiovascular related diseases around the globe is indeed a cause for great concern, several reasons are adduced for this marked increase in occurrence of these life-threatening health conditions.

Cardiovascular disease can take several forms: high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, stroke, or arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat). According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease causes more than 17 million deaths in the world each year. The figures are indeed alarming and shows no sign of slowing down any moment soon.

A worrisome report detailing hard facts and figures on the extent of the devastation wreaked by these set of diseases, which was compiled at the behest of the American Heart Association gives a graphic insight to the magnitude of the sad development.

Facts and Figures on Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases

  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030.
  • In 2008, cardiovascular deaths represented 30 percent of all global deaths, with 80 percent of those deaths taking place in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Nearly 787,000 people in the U.S. died from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in 2011. That’s about one of every three deaths in America.
  • About 2,150 Americans die each day from these diseases, one every 40 seconds.
  • Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
  • About 85.6 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke.
  • Direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke total more than $320.1 billion. That includes health expenditures and lost productivity.
  • Nearly half of all African-American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, 48 percent of women and 46 percent of men.
  • Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the world and the leading cause of death in the United States, killing over 375,000 Americans a year.
  • Heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the U.S.
  • Someone in the U.S. dies from heart disease about once every 90 seconds.


Heart Disease

  • From 2001 to 2011, the death rate from heart disease has fallen about 39 percent – but the burden and risk factors remain alarmingly high.
  • Heart disease strikes someone in the U.S. about once every 43 seconds.
  • Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing over 375,000 people a year.
  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
  • Over 39,000 African-Americans died from heart disease in 2011.
  • Cardiovascular operations and procedures increased about 28 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to federal data, totaling about 7.6 million in 2010.
  • About 735,000 people in the U.S. have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 120,000 die.
  • About 635,000 people in the U.S. have a first-time heart attack each year, and about 300,000 have recurrent heart attacks.



  • In 2010, worldwide prevalence of stroke was 33 million, with 16.9 million people having a first stroke. Stroke was the second-leading global cause of death behind heart disease, accounting for 11.13% of total deaths worldwide.
  • Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 129,000 people a year.
  • Stroke kills someone in the U.S. about once every four minutes.
  • African-Americans have nearly twice the risk for a first-ever stroke than white people, and a much higher death rate from stroke.
  • Over the past 10 years, the death rate from stroke has fallen about 35 percent and the number of stroke deaths has dropped about 21 percent.
  • About 795,000 people have a stroke every year.
  • Someone in the U.S. has a stroke about once every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke causes 1 of every 20 deaths in the U.S.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of disability.
  • Stroke is the leading preventable cause of disability.


Sudden Cardiac Arrest

  • In 2011, about 326,200 people experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States. Of those treated by emergency medical services, 10.6 percent survived. Of the 19,300 bystander-witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in 2011, 31.4 percent survived.
  • Each year, about 209,000 people have a cardiac arrest while in the hospital.


Heart Disease, Stroke and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Cardiovascular disease


The American Heart Association gauges the cardiovascular health of the nation by tracking seven key health factors and behaviors that increase risks for heart disease and stroke. We call these “Life’s Simple 7” and we measure them to track progress toward our 2020 Impact

Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent, by the year 2020.

Life’s Simple 7 are: not smoking, physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, and control of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Here are key facts related to these factors:



  • Worldwide, tobacco smoking (including secondhand smoke) was one of the top three leading risk factors for disease and contributed to an estimated 6.2 million deaths in 2010.
  • 16 percent of students grades 9-12 report being current smokers. Among adults, 20 percent of men and 16 percent of women are smokers.
  • Among adults, those most likely to smoke were American Indian or Alaska Native men (26 percent), white men (22 percent), African-American men (21 percent), white women (19 percent), American Indian or Alaska Native women (17 percent), Hispanic men (17 percent), African-American women (15 percent), Asian men (15 percent), Hispanic women (7 percent), and Asian women (5 percent).
  • In 2012 there were approximately 6,300 new cigarette smokers every day.


Physical Activity

  • About one in every three U.S. adults – 31 percent – reports participating in no leisure time physical activity.
  • Among students in grades 9-12, only about 27 percent meet the American Heart Association recommendation of 60 minutes of exercise every day. More high school boys (36.6%) than girls (17.7%) self-reported having been physically active at least 60 minutes per day on all seven days.


Healthy Diet

  • Less than 1 percent of U.S. adults meet the American Heart Association’s definition for “Ideal Healthy Diet.” Essentially no children meet the definition. Of the 5 components of a healthy diet, reducing sodium and increasing whole grains are the biggest challenges.
  • Eating patterns have changed dramatically in recent decades. Research from 1971 to 2004 showed that women consumed an average of 22 percent more calories in that span and men consumed and average of 10 percent more. The average woman eats about 1,900 calories a day and the average man has nearly 2,700, according to the government figures.



  • Most Americans older than 20 are overweight or obese. Over 159 million U.S. adults – or about 69 percent – are overweight or obese.
  • About 32 percent children are overweight or obese. About 24 million are overweight and about 13 million – 17 percent – are obese.
  • In 2008, an estimated 1.46 billion adults worldwide were overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity was estimated at 205 million men and 297 million women.



  • About 43 percent of Americans have total cholesterol higher of 200 mg/dL or higher. The race and gender breakdown is: o 46 percent of Hispanic men o 46 percent of white women o 43 percent of Hispanic women o 41 percent of black women o 40 percent of white men o 37 percent of black men
  • About 13 percent of Americans have total cholesterol over 240 mg/dL.
  • Nearly one of every three Americans has high levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind).
  • About 20 percent of Americans have low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind).


High Blood Pressure

  • About 80 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure. That’s about 33 percent. About 77 percent of those are using antihypertensive medication, but only 54 of those have their condition controlled.
  • About 69 percent of people who have a first heart attack, 77 percent of people who have a first stroke and 74 percent who have congestive heart failure have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg.
  • Nearly half of people with high blood pressure (46 percent) do not have it under control.
  • Hypertension is projected to increase about 8 percent between 2013 and 2030.
  • Rates of high blood pressure among African-Americans is among the highest of any population in the world. Here is the U.S. breakdown by race and gender. o 46 percent of African-American women o 45 percent of African-American men o 33 percent of white men o 30 percent of white women o 30 percent of Hispanic men o 30 percent of Hispanic women
  • In 2000, it was estimated that 972 million adults worldwide had hypertension.


Blood Sugar/Diabetes

  • The prevalence of diabetes for adults worldwide was estimated to be 6.4 percent in 2010 and is projected to be 7.7 percent in 2030. The total number of people with diabetes is projected to rise from 285 million in 2010 to 439 million in 2030.
  • About 21 million Americans have diagnosed diabetes. That’s almost 9 percent of the adult population, but diabetes rates are growing. In fact, about 35 percent of Americans have pre-diabetes.
  • African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and other ethnic minorities bear a disproportionate burden of diabetes in the U.S.

With the foregoing, there is a need to be proactively involved in stemming the tide of this seeming pandemic…this is so because the facts are truly scary. If this significant number of people are suffering and dying from these diseases then it requires practical action plan to ensure a mitigation against the crippling effects worldwide. Access to advanced healthcare facilities are available in the U.S. and other Western countries, and may well be the reason why there has not been an explosion in the occurrence of more prognosis.

However, the lack of qualitative medical service in the developing nations brings to fore the disparity in incident of cardiovascular diseases. Inaccessibility to good health care also prevents.



David M. Morens, Gregory K. Folkers, and Anthony S. Fauci. What Is a Pandemic? J Infect Dis. (2009) 200 (7): 1018-1021 DOI: 10.1086/644537

Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, Arnett DK, Blaha MJ, Cushman M, de Ferranti S, Després J-P, Fullerton HJ, Howard VJ, Huffman MD, Judd SE, Kissela BM, Lackland DT, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth LD, Liu S, Mackey RH, Matchar DB, McGuire DK, Mohler ER 3rd, Moy CS, Muntner P, Mussolino ME, Nasir K, Neumar RW, Nichol G, Palaniappan L, Pandey DK, Reeves MJ, Rodriguez CJ, Sorlie PD, Stein J, Towfighi A, Turan TN, Virani SS, Willey JZ, Woo D, Yeh RW, Turner MB; on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics— 2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association [published online ahead of print December 17, 2014]. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000152.

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