Stroke And Heart Disease: A Never Ending Problem

Untimely, Preventable Deaths

We often describe death as untimely when it claims the lives of men, women, and children who die before their time on our highways, or from work-related injuries, overdoses, violent rampages, terrorist acts, or in war. Death from heart disease or stroke is often untimely … and often preventable.

The Scope of the Problem in the United States

Every 33 seconds, one American dies of some form of heart disease or of stroke. Every day, heart disease or stroke kills more than 2,600 Americans. And every year, these diseases claim the lives of 1.9 million men and women in this Nation—a number so high it could fill the Rose Bowl nearly 20 times, Arlington National Cemetery nearly 8 times, and one-third of the Pentagon’s 6.5 million square feet. That number is nearly twice the number of lives claimed by cancer or collectively by World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. That number can be reduced, not just by keeping people with heart disease alive longer, but by preventing heart disease in the first place.

Who lives with heart disease or the consequences of stroke in America?

58,800,000 Americans, or 1 in 5 men and women, have one or more types of heart disease or live with the devastating impact of stroke. One in three men can expect to develop heart disease or have a stroke before age 60. For women, the odds are l in 10, although more than half of all deaths due to heart disease each year occur among women, and heart disease is the number one cause of death among women in this country. Further, the rate of premature deaths due to heart disease or stroke is greater among blacks than among whites. Heart disease disables and kills and often can strike both women and men in the prime of their lives.

How big is the problem of heart disease in the United States?

Heart disease is the Nation’s number one killer. In 1996, coronary heart disease, which is the most common form of heart disease characterized by chest pain and heart attack, ended the lives of 476,124 Americans.

Twelve million people alive today have a history of heart attack, chest pain, or both.

Of these, 5.8 million are men and 6.1 million are women. This year, an estimated 1.1 million Americans will have a new or recurrent heart attack and about one-third of them will die. At least 250,000 people a year die of heart attack within 1 hour of the onset of symptoms and before they reach a hospital. These are sudden deaths caused by cardiac arrest, usually resulting from ventricular fibrillation.





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