Health: Cardiovascular disease is leading cause of death in U.S.

By Judy Mattingly, MA/Franklin County Health Department, Published:

Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attack and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there are more than two million heart attacks and strokes a year that result in 800,000 deaths annually or 2,200 deaths per day. Heart disease and stroke combined are also the leading cause of death in Franklin County.

In 2009, approximately 83 deaths were because of heart disease and 17 deaths were attributed to stroke in Franklin County. For this same year Kentucky reported 9,410 deaths from heart disease and 1,948 deaths from stroke.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “Heart disease takes the lives of far too many people in this country, depriving their families and communities of someone they love and care for – a father, a mother, a wife, a friend, a neighbor, a spouse. Just about all of us have been touched by someone who has had heart disease, heart attack or a stroke.”

Kentucky consistently ranks higher than the nation in cardiovascular disease with 6.1 percent of Kentuckians reporting they have had a heart attack, 5.9 percent have heart disease and 3.9 percent have had a stroke. Nationwide only 4.4 percent reported a heart attack, 4.1 percent have heart disease and 2.9 percent have suffered a stroke. This is according to the 2011 Kentucky Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

The main risk factors for cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. The 2011 Kentucky BRFSS also found 38 percent of Kentuckians have high blood pressure compared to 30.8 percent in the U.S.; 41.3 percent of Kentuckians have high cholesterol compared to 38.4 percent in the U.S.; and 29 percent of adult Kentuckians smoke compared to 21.2 percent in the U.S.

During February, Heart Health Month, the CDC reminds everyone to know his or her ABCS.

“Ask your doctor if you should take an Aspirin every day. Find out if you have high Blood pressure or Cholesterol, and if you do, get effective treatment. If you Smoke, get help to quit.”

A heart healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium and trans fat, 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week and following your doctor’s prescription instructions are also recommended.

The Million Hearts nationwide initiative was launched in September 2011 with the goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. over five years. You, your family and friends can take the Million Hearts pledge at This website also has resources to determine your heart health risk and tips for taking control of your blood pressure and cholesterol.

To improve heart health the Franklin County Health Department recently began a Cooper Clayton smoking cessation class and has a record number of participants who are committed to becoming non-smokers.

The next available Cooper Clayton smoking cessation class will be offered at the Anderson County Health Department beginning 5 p.m. Thursday. Call 502-839-4551, extension 1110 for more information.

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