September 29 is World Heart Day. It’s a day created to remind people that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death.

The numbers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 697,000 people in the U.S. died from heart disease in 2020. That is 1 in every 5 deaths. 

  • Additional facts and figures about heart disease in the United States are:
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
  • One person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
  • Heart disease cost the United States about $229 billion each year from 2017 to 2018. This includes the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.

As for coronary artery disease:

  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing 382,820 people in 2020.
  • About 20.1 million adults age 20 and older have CAD (about 7.2%).
  • In 2020, about 2 in 10 deaths from CAD happen in adults less than 65 years old.

Heart attack facts and figures:

  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
  • Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack. Of these, 605,000 are a first heart attack.
  • About 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.
  • Heart disease deaths vary by sex, race, and ethnicity.

The doctor is in

Doctors have seen some patients struggle with this during the pandemic. Doctor Louis Cristol, cardiologist at Baylor Scott and White, All Saints in Fort Worth, Texas, says there are steps you can take and prevention measures to discuss with your doctor.

“It also helps to get things checked out. That is getting one’s blood sugar checked, getting the cholesterol measured, getting it broken down into the good and the bad. There are more complex things that actually helpful that are now available, the calcium score, a new concept testing, one where you can identify the presence of coronary disease,” Dr. Cristol.

How to prevent

Dr. Cristol says the good news is that heart disease is preventable.

The American Heart Association recommends that people focus on addressing the top seven risk factors:

  • Eating healthy
  • Getting active
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing blood sugar
  • Controlling your cholesterol
  • Managing your blood pressure
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke is extremely important. The American Heart Association has more on that on their website.