The States With the Least Heart Disease

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No other condition kills more people in the United States than heart disease. One in every four deaths is caused by heart disease, or 610,000 deaths a year. On average, 6.9% of American adults have some form of major cardiovascular disease and 3.6% have suffered a heart attack.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors for heart disease. Nearly half of Americans either have one of the conditions or smoke. In addition to smoking, unhealthy behaviors such as poor diet and lack of physical activity also increase a person’s risk of developing a cardiovascular disease.

Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise, eating a proper diet, or both can help lower the risk of heart disease. Though it is not always the case, states with relatively lower shares of heart disease among the adult population tend to report healthier habits. For example, the three states with the smallest share of adults living with heart disease also have the three largest shares of people of normal weight. Also, the states with the highest rates of adult obesity tend to have the highest rates of heart disease among disease — though not always.

Across populations, other risk factors for cardiovascular disease can have an impact on its prevalence. Six of the 10 states with the lowest shares of adults with heart disease also have among the lowest inactivity rates among adults in the United States. The other four are not far behind.

Seven of the 10 states with the lowest rates of heart disease are among the top 15 of states with the lowest poverty rates in the country. The median annual household income in most of these states is up to $20,000 above the national median of over $60,000.

To determine the states with the most heart disease, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of residents 18 or older who had a major cardiovascular disease as of 2015, the latest year for which data was available, with data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Also from the CDC BRFSS we reviewed the share of adults who had coronary disease and at least one episode of heart attack as of 2015. Population figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 1-year American Community Survey.

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