Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America and is the leading cause of long-term disability. The cost of cardiovascular diseases and stroke in the United States is extraordinarily high to the individual, his/her family, and to society as a whole. In 2004 these costs were estimated at over $3 billion. This figure includes health expenditures as well as lost productivity resulting from morbidity and mortality (American Heart Association). Fortunately the major risk factors for heart disease, such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition can be addressed with healthy lifestyles.
In Southeastern Pennsylvania in 2004, more than 8,000 people died of coronary heart disease (PA Department of Health). Many adults suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart problems. The following data from PHMC's 2004 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey describe the prevalence and extent of these problems among adults ages 18+ in the region.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
High blood pressure that is not controlled can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. According to the American Heart Association, one in four U.S. adults has high blood pressure. However, because there are often no symptoms, many of these people are not aware of their condition.
· In Southeastern Pennsylvania, 328,000 adults age 18 years of age and older have not had a blood pressure test in the past year. Of these individuals, 32,300 have never had a test to measure their blood pressure. However, almost nine out of ten (88.7%) adults report that they have had a blood pressure reading in the past year.
· More than one-quarter of adults in the region (26.8%) have been told by a health professional that they have high blood pressure, representing 787,300 adults. Nearly nine out of ten (89.7%) are currently doing something to control their hypertension.
· Greater than one-half of adults 60 years of age and older have high blood pressure (54.5%). This is nearly twice that of adults ages 40-59 (28.1%) and more than four times that of adults ages 18-39 (8%).
· African American adults (35.2%) are more likely than white (26%), Latino (20.7%), and Asian (7.8%) adults to have high blood pressure.
· More than one-third of adults who live below the federal poverty level have high blood pressure (35.1%). This percentage is much higher compared to nonpoor adults (26.4%).
· One-third of adults (35.7%) who have high blood pressure report that their health is fair or poor compared to 12.8 percent of adults without high blood pressure.
· Fifteen percent of adults with high blood pressure smoke cigarettes everyday, representing 116,100 adults and 5% smoke some days. Among adults with high blood pressure who smoke, six out of ten (60.3%) adults have tried to quit smoking in the past year. The top three methods used are own their own/cold turkey, a patch or nicotine gum, or a group class.
· Three-quarters of adults with high blood pressure are overweight or obese. This represents greater than half a million adults (583,200).
· Greater than six out of ten (66.6%0 of adults with high blood pressure exercise less than three times per week or never, representing 519,700 adults who do not exercise on a regular basis.
Although cholesterol occurs naturally in all parts of the body, if too much cholesterol is present in the bloodstream the excess is deposited in the arteries. When the coronary arteries become narrowed or clogged, arteriosclerosis occurs. This limits the amount of blood that circulates easily in the body and to the heart. As a result, many individuals with arteriosclerosis suffer with heart conditions such as congestive heart failure and heart attack (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute).
· In Southeastern Pennsylvania, 625,100 adults age 18 years of age and older have not had a blood cholesterol screening in the past year. Of these individuals, 24,900 have never had this screening. Two thirds of Southeastern Pennsylvania adults (69.8%), however, have had a cholesterol check in the past year.
· Nearly one quarter of adults (23.6%) have high cholesterol, representing 690,500 adults. Of these adults, 84.6 percent are currently doing something to control their high cholesterol.
· Older adults are most likely to have high cholesterol. Forty-four (44.2%) percent of adults 60 years of age and older have high cholesterol compared to 8 percent of adults ages 18-39, and 26.4 percent of adults ages 40-59.
· Twice as many adults with high cholesterol as those without high cholesterol report that they are in fair or poor health (31.1% vs. 15.1%, respectively).
· Nearly one out of five adults with high cholesterol (15%) smoke cigarettes everyday, and 4.4% smoke some days. Greater than one-half (59.9%) of these adults tried to quit smoking in the past year.
· Three-quarters (72.4%) of adults with high cholesterol are overweight or obese. This represents almost half a million adults (492,700).
· Greater than one-half of adults with high cholesterol (68.4%) exercise less three times per week or never, representing 470,400 adults who do not exercise on a regular basis.
· One out of eleven adults (9.6%) in Southeastern Pennsylvania has been told that they have or had a heart condition, representing 281,300 adults.
· Nearly three percent (2.8%) of adults have had a stoke at some point in their lives.
For more information regarding PHMC’s Community Health Data Base 2004 Household Health Survey, or to learn more about heart disease and associated risk factors among adults in Southeastern Pennsylvania, contact Francine Axler at 215-985-2521or Francine@phmc.org.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Cholesterol Education Program
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