Cardiovascular Diseases

Alabama’s #5 Health Concern

Alabamians identified cardiovascular diseases as the fifth greatest current health concern in Alabama. Fortunately, it is possible to obtain comprehensive data on the status of cardiovascular disease from data collected by ADPH’s Center for Health Statistics on heart disease and stroke mortality, data from Medicaid, Medicare, and BCBS on insurance and claims.

Cardiovascular disease is a serious health condition which can result in death and disability. It is by far the leading cause of death in Alabama, the nation and most counties in Alabama. Because of a lack of screening and health services, heart disease is often diagnosed only when it begins to have serious health consequences.

Many people in Alabama have hypertension or high cholesterol but do not know that they have it. Heart disease can be treated with changes in diet and exercise, if the condition is detected in its early stages. It is especially prevalent in rural areas.

Alabama Cardiovascular Disease Highlights

Alabama had a heart disease mortality rate 1.3 times the United States rate in 2011. In addition, heart disease was the leading cause of death in 2013, with 12,453 dying of the disease. More than 38 percent of Alabama’s adults have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, but many with the condition are undiagnosed. African Americans are significantly more likely to have and to die of stroke. Cardiovascular disease is inversely related to income and education. Cardiovascular disease risk increases dramatically with age. Poor diets, high in fats and processed sugars, and lack of exercise are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease.

Health Indicators

Cardiovascular disease is highly related to obesity and a lack of exercise. The following indicators have been selected for use in developing a benchmark or starting point for measuring the current state of and monitoring future changes regarding cardiovascular disease in Alabama:

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Page last updated: April 14, 2017