Heart Disease Facts
Heart Disease Facts

54 Interesting Heart Disease Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 20, 2016Updated September 1, 2019
  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Cancer and stroke round out the top three.[2]
  • Heart disease is an umbrella term that includes conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart diseases.[2]
  • The most common cause of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which is a blocked or narrowed coronary artery that supplies the heart with blood.[3]
  • Heart disease accounts for 40% of all U.S. deaths, more than all forms of cancer combined.[11]
  • Heart Disease Costs
    In the U.S., Heart Disease costs billions of dollars each year
  • Heart disease costs the United States $316.4 billion annually.[2]
  • The diabetes drug Avandia has been linked to tens of thousands of heart attacks. A U.S. Senate report claims that the makers of the drug, GlaxoSmithKline, knew of the risks and kept them from the public.[10]
  • A person with both a first-degree relative (a parent or sibling) and a second-degree relative (uncle or grandparent) who suffer from heart disease before the age of 60 is nearly 10 times more likely to suffer from heart disease early in life.[7]
  • CT scans of mummies reveal that heart disease was surprisingly frequent in ancient Egypt, suggesting that heart disease is caused by factors other than modern habits, such as smoking, fast food, and T.V. watching (inactivity).[11]
  • A Danish study claims that men and women with thighs that measure less than 23.62 inches (60 cm) in circumference have a higher risk of developing heart disease.[4]
  • It takes just four to six minutes after cardiac arrest before a person experiences brain death and then complete death. The survival rate outside a hospital is less than 1-2%.[9]
  • Sixteen percent of patients treated in Seattle for cardiac arrest survived, compared to 3% in Alabama.[13]
  • Researchers suggest that those who stay up late may be more prone to heart disease even if they get eight hours' sleep. Also, in one study, women who slept five hours or less a night were 39% more likely to develop heart disease than women who got eight hours. All of this is possibly due to habits or events associated with late nights or short sleep hours rather than the time factors themselves.[5]
  • Heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrests are two different events. A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when blood supply to the heart muscle stops and the heart muscle dies. A sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping due to an electrical problem in the heart. An SCA may occur in tandem with a heart attack.[2]
  • In the United States, more than 1,000 people die every day from sudden cardiac death or cardiac arrest.[2]
  • People who live alone are twice as likely to have a heart attack or sudden cardiac death as those who live with a partner or roommate.[2]
  • Laughing and Hearts
    Laughter can help protect the heart
  • Laughing relaxes and expands blood vessels, which helps protect the heart.[2]
  • Negative emotions and depression are risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Conversely, happier people are less likely to develop heart disease.[2]
  • Researchers found that a woman’s resting pulse rate was a good indicator of her risk of heart attack. Women with high heart rates, at or above 76 beats per minute, were more likely to suffer a heart attack than women with lower resting pulse rates (62 beats per minute or less).[6]
  • Six and a half million Americans suffer from angina (severe cardiac pain).[2]
  • More than 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day, equaling one death every 34 seconds.[2]
  • Age is the most significant risk factor of developing heart disease, followed by gender, family history coupled with ethnic background, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high blood cholesterol.[2]
  • Approximately 40% of people having a heart attack die before they get to the hospital.[2]
  • Heart drugs may have serious interactions with herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, and garlic.[2]
  • In 2006, heart disease death rates were highest in Mississippi and lowest in Minnesota.[2]
  • Menopausal women are at a higher risk for developing heart disease because their bodies produce less estrogen.[2]
  • Orgasm and Heart Health
    Orgasms can reduce a man's chance of dying from coronary heart disease
  • A statistical study in Wales found that having an orgasm at least three times a week may decrease the risk of a man dying from coronary heart disease by half.[1]
  • Two-thirds of deaths from heart attacks in women occur in those who have had no history of chest pain.[2]
  • Kawasaki disease and acute rheumatic fever are the two main causes of acquired heart disease in children in the United States.[2]
  • A person is more likely to have a heart attack on Monday morning than on any other day of the week.[2]
  • Physicians call morning time “the witching hour” for heart attacks because the mornings are when most people suffer a hear attack. In the morning, stress hormones, such as cortisol peak. Additionally, blood is thicker and harder to pump because a person is partially dehydrated.[2]
  • A large, indulgent dinner with high fat and carb counts can constrict blood vessels, increasing the risk of blood clotting.[2]
  • Hypertension, or when the pressure in the arteries is higher than normal, increases the risk of coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis). High blood pressure usually has no symptoms and not only damages the heart, but the kidney and the brain as well.[2]
  • People with diabetes, older adults, and women may not have the classic symptom of chest pain during a heart attack. They are more likely to suffer from shortness of breath, nausea, back pain, and/or jaw pain.[2]
  • Oral Health Facts
    Poor oral hygiene can contribute to heart disease
  • People with poor oral health may be more likely to have atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) because the bacteria in the gums and teeth can enter the bloodstream and affect blood clotting.[2]
  • Heart transplant surgery can last from four to 10 hours, and patients may go home within seven to 16 days. Patients are required to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives to avoid organ rejection.[2]
  • A transplanted heart beats about 100-110 beats per minute (70 beats is about normal). A transplanted heart also doesn’t increase its rate as quickly in response to exercise.[2]
  • Coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis) develops in almost half of all heart transplants. Many patients are unaware of the disease because the nerves leading to the heart are cut during a transplant; consequently, transplant patients have no feeling in their new hearts.[2]
  • Twenty-five percent of patients waiting for a heart transplant die before an organ becomes available. Approximately 2,300 heart transplants are performed annually in the U.S.[2]
  • More than 79,400,000 Americans have one or more forms of heart disease.[2]
  • More than 32,000 (one in every 125-150) infants are born with heart defects in the U.S. The defect may go undetected for years. Heart defects are the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths.[3]
  • Nearly 10% of the U.S. population has an undiagnosed patent foramen ovale (PFO) or a “hole in the heart,” which increases the risk of a stroke.[2]
  • ECG Test Fact
    About 25% of heart attacks go unrecognized
  • Research suggests that 25% of heart attacks go unrecognized and are discovered only later when a routine ECG is performed.[2]
  • More U.S. women (38%) than men (25%) will die from heart disease in a single year.[2]
  • The death rate associated with heart disease among African-American women is significantly higher than among Caucasian women.[2]
  • One in 2.6 female deaths in the U.S. is from heart disease, compared to one in 30 from breast cancer.[2]
  • Worldwide, nearly one third (8.6 million) of all deaths in women are from heart disease.[2]
  • Studies from more than 20 countries show that moderate drinkers have 20-40% less coronary heart disease than nondrinkers.[2]
  • Women who smoke risk having a heart attack 19 years earlier than nonsmoking women.[2]
  • Women who smoke and also use oral contraceptives increase their risk of heart disease and stroke several times compared with nonsmoking women who use oral contraceptives.[2]
  • While heart failure can affect either side or both sides of the heart, it usually affects the left side of the heart first.[2]
  • Approximately 30% of the people who die from heart disease each year are smokers.[12]
  • Secondhand Smoke Fact
    Second hand smoke can increase risk of stroke by 70%
  • Secondhand smoke increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 25%. Nonsmokers have more than a 70% increase in risk of stroke if they live with a smoker. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke could trigger a heart attack.[12]
  • The skin inflammation associated with psoriasis has been linked to an increased incidence of myocardial infarction or heart attack.[8]
  • Heart-healthy foods include salmon, ground flaxseed, oatmeal, black or kidney beans, almonds, walnuts, red wine, tuna, brown rice, and blueberries.[2]

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