News | February 22, 2007

Ten Worst States for Heart Disease

Feb. 23, 2007 — West Virginia holds the dubious rank of the state with the highest percentage of residents with heart disease (10.4 percent), according to a study released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The lowest ranking state on the survey is Colorado.

Variations in lifestyle risk factors for heart disease vary state to state, the report suggested, which may account for the geographic disparities in the number of heart attacks and the incidence of heart disease.

“Different regions have different dietary patterns, different acceptable activities for exercise and differences in the availability of safe, easily accessible places to go for physical activity,” said Jonathan Neyer, epidemiologist in the CDC’s division for heart disease and stroke prevention, who spearheaded the study.

He also said that state and metropolitan policies that regulate smoking in restaurants, healthy food in schools and heart health education also make a difference.

The 10 states with the worst heart disease occurrences are:
1) West Virginia (10.4 percent)
2) Kentucky (8.8 percent)
3) Mississippi (8.0 percent)
4) Louisiana (7.9 percent)
5) Tennessee (7.6 percent)
6) Oklahoma (7.5 percent)
7) Alabama (7.4)
8) Florida (7.4 percent)
9) Missouri (7.3 percent)
10) Arizona (7.0 percent)

The study found these states comprise a high proportion of residents with multiple heart disease risk factors and a disproportionately high number of heart disease deaths. The same was found among residents living in Puerto Rico.

In examining the prevalence of heart disease, Neyer and his colleagues also looked at differences in race, gender and education. American Indians, for example, were found to be twice as likely to experience heart disease as Asian Americans. And a high school dropout is nearly twice as likely to have heart disease as a college graduate.

Besides Colorado, other states reporting lowest percentages of heart disease included: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota, Utah, Hawaii, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The study, titled “Prevalence of Heart Disease – United States, 2005,” was published in the Feb. 15 edition of “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.” The study is based on an analysis of state-specific data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System — a random phone survey of U.S. adults age 18 and older conducted by state/territorial health departments.

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