IHD [ischemic heart disease] causes more deaths and disability and incurs greater economic costs than any other illness in the developed world. . . [and it] is likely to become the most common cause of death worldwide by 2020.
Antman et al., 2008
Approximately 1 of every 13 Americans aged 18 years and older has CAD. It is the leading cause of death for people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States (CDC, 2013a). In the United States, CAD is most common among Hispanic Americans and least common among Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaska Natives.
Coronary artery disease develops gradually, so it is typically a disease of elders; in fact, the strongest risk factor for CAD is age. Although the disease may become clinically apparent by age 40, people 65 years of age and older account for approximately 85% of deaths from CAD (Boudi, 2013).
Each year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack and 325,000 are a repeat heart attack (CDC, 2013a).
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women, accounting for 1 out of every 4 deaths each year. Every 34 seconds someone has a heart attack and each minute someone dies from a heart disease-related event. There are approximately 715,000 heart attacks and 600,000 deaths each year due to heart disease in the United States (CDC, 2012a).
Although the frequency of CAD is similar in both black and white populations, the death rate from CAD is greater for blacks than for whites. In 2009 African Americans were 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic white men (OMH, 2012).
Death rates vary throughout the United States. The highest death rates (darkest colors) are in the South and around the regions drained by the Ohio, Mississippi, and Red Rivers. Source: CDC, 2012b.
There is one hopeful statistic. Despite the fact that CAD is the leading cause of death in the United States, there has been a 30% reduction in the mortality rate since the latter part of the twentieth century. Factors such as coronary artery bypass, thrombolytic therapy, and an emphasis on lifestyle modification are some of the reasons for this reduction (Boudi, 2013).
Deaths from CAD often happen to people with no previous heart symptoms. Although some people may feel a rapid heartbeat or dizziness that alerts to a dangerous heart rhythm, over half of the people who have sudden cardiac deaths were previously asymptomatic (WebMD, 2012).
Illness from CAD strains the American health system. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, costs the United States $312.6 billion each year. This total includes the cost of healthcare services, medications, and lost productivity. Cardiovascular diseases are also a leading cause of disability, preventing affected persons from working and enjoying family activities (CDC, 2013b).