Statistics on Cardiovascular Disease

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: January 2024

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to a range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. These conditions include clogged arteries (coronary artery disease), heart attack, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and stroke.1

Rates of CVD are increasing in the United States and around the world. Millions of people are affected by CVD each year. Understanding cardiovascular disease statistics is the first step in addressing this global health challenge.1,2

What is the prevalence of CVD in the United States?

Heart disease is the main cause of death for people in the United States and globally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 5 people in the United States died from CVD in 2021.1

Death from CVD is most commonly caused by coronary artery disease. Here is a breakdown of the most common causes of CVD deaths in the United States in 2020:1,3

  • Coronary artery disease – 41.2 percent
  • Stroke – 17.3 percent
  • High blood pressure – 12.9 percent
  • Heart failure – 9.2 percent
  • Diseases of the arteries – 2.6 percent
  • Other types of CVD – 16.8 percent

Who is most at risk for CVD?

While CVD affects all kinds of people worldwide, certain groups face a higher risk.

Age

The risk for CVD increases with age, but CVD can occur at any age.4

Geographical differences

Both developed and developing nations report high rates of CVD. In developed nations, this is mostly due to a lack of physical activity and poor diet. In developing countries, poor access to quality healthcare, lack of early detection, and inadequate treatments are the main reasons for CVD deaths.2

Socioeconomic factors

Worldwide, people with lower socioeconomic status often face a higher risk of CVD, and CVD death rates are higher among people in this group. Factors that people in this population may face include:5

  • Limited access to quality healthcare
  • Unhealthy living conditions
  • Less access to healthy foods and lifestyle choices
  • Low income

Race and ethnicity

Certain racial and ethnic groups have higher rates of CVD. These groups include American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, and Black Americans. Genetic factors do play a role in this. But social factors, such as access to quality healthcare and education about CVD risk factors and symptoms, also play a role.1

Does CVD affect genders differently?

Men generally face a higher risk of CVD than women, but more women than men die from the condition. The reason for this is likely that men generally experience more typical CVD symptoms than women and are likely to seek care for their symptoms.6

For example, men are more likely to have chest pain than women are. Women are more likely to have atypical symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, and fatigue. This can lead to missed diagnoses in women, putting them at higher risk of death due to delays in diagnosis and treatment.6

Economic burden

The economic cost of CVD is immense. Between 2018 and 2019, the total cost of CVD in the United States – including healthcare and treatment costs along with lost productivity from work – was more than $400 billion.3

Outcomes and prognosis

CVD and complications from the disease can lead to reduced quality of life, disability, and even death. The good news is that in most cases, CVD can be prevented with certain lifestyle changes. These changes include eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and quitting smoking.4,5,7

Also, managing conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes is crucial in preventing CVD and its complications.4,5

Treatment options for CVD have come a long way in recent years. This is good news for anyone with a risk for CVD. Seeking preventative care is still vital since once you develop CVD, there is no way to completely reverse the disease process. It is important to get regular health check-ups, cholesterol screenings, and blood pressure monitoring to stay on top of your health.

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Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.