Heart-related hospitalizations, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, stroke
Cardiovascular health includes indicators related to the health of the heart and the cardiovascular system. Related conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol have significant impacts on the health outcomes of individuals.
Why does cardiovascular health matter?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, resulting in nearly 600,000 deaths per year. The CDC estimates that yearly costs associated with coronary heart disease alone are $108.9 billion. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and that this disease can be prevented by tackling risk factors like smoking, poor diets, physical inactivity, and other diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. The WHO also recognizes poverty and stress as risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
How do we measure cardiovascular disease?
The Public Policy Center measures the impact of cardiovascular disease on the local community by examining diagnoses of heart disease. The following are also tracked as indicators: age-adjusted heart-related hospitalizations, high cholesterol, hypertension, and stroke.
These indicators give us an idea of the cardiovascular health of the community. Hospitalizations or management of ongoing conditions like hypertension strain the physical and mental health as well as the financial resources of residents. Tracking these indicators over time allows us to discover trends in cardiovascular disease and examine the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving cardiovascular health.
The age-adjusted rate for heart-related hospitalizations was obtained from the Massachusetts Community Health Information Profile (MassCHIP). Adjusting for age is a procedure designed to minimize the effects of differences in age distributions when comparing rates for different populations. Age-adjusted rates are usually expressed per 100,000 persons. For standardization within MassCHIP the standard population used is the US population in the year 2000.
The percentage of adults diagnosed with heart disease, high cholesterol, or hypertension, and the percentage of adults who had strokes in a given year were all obtained from MassCHIP.
How is Fall River doing?
1. Percentage of adults diagnosed with heart disease: 9.3%
Over the period of 2005 to 2007, 9.3% of adults in Fall River were diagnosed with heart disease, which was greater than the percentage of Massachusetts adults diagnosed during the same period (6.8%).
2. Heart-related hospitalization rate: 5,369.9 for hypertension, 1,259 for heart disease, and 211.7 for heart attack
There was a 35.5% increase in the rate of hypertension-related hospitalizations from 2000 to 2009. The rates for hospitalizations for heart disease and heart attacks decreased during the same period by 30% and 35.8%, respectively. These rates are age-adjusted.
3. Proportion of adults diagnosed with high cholesterol: 40%
From 2007 to 2009, 40% of adults had been diagnosed with high blood cholesterol at some point in their lives, which is 4.3% higher than the figure for Massachusetts from the same period (35.7%).
4. Lifetime hypertension diagnosis: 33.1% of adults
The percentage of adults with a lifetime hypertension diagnosis in Fall River (33.1%) is higher than the percentage for Massachusetts (29.2%). Furthermore, prevalence of hypertension grew by 3% from 2001 to 2011, which was less than the increase for Massachusetts (5.6%) during the same period.
5. Percentage of adults who are stroke victims: 4.9%
The percentage of Fall River adults who had a stroke in 2010 (4.9%) is nearly double the percentage for Massachusetts (2.5%), and the prevalence of strokes in Fall River increased by 3% since 2006.
How is New Bedford doing?
1. Percentage of adults diagnosed with heart disease: 8.2%
Over the period 2005-2007, 8.2% of adults in New Bedford were diagnosed with heart disease, which was greater than the percentage of Massachusetts adults (6.8%) diagnosed during the same period.
2. Heart-related hospitalization rate: 5,591.1 for hypertension, 1,221 for heart disease, and 266.1 for heart attack
There was a 68.9% increase in the rate of hypertension-related hospitalizations from 2000 to 2009. The rates of hospitalizations for heart disease and heart attacks decreased during the same period by 10.5% and 17.2%, respectively. These rates are age-adjusted.
3. Proportion of adults diagnosed with high cholesterol: 38.4%
From 2007 to 2009, 38.4% of adults had been diagnosed with high blood cholesterol at some point in their lives, which is 2.7% higher than the figure for Massachusetts from the same period (35.7%).
4. Lifetime hypertension diagnosis: 37.3% of adults
The percentage of adults with a lifetime hypertension diagnosis in New Bedford (37.3%) is higher than the percentage for Massachusetts (29.2%). Furthermore, prevalence of hypertension grew by 5.7% from 2001 to 2011, which was slightly more than the increase for Massachusetts (5.6%) during the same period.
5. Percentage of adults who are stroke victims: 3.4%
The percentage of New Bedford adults who had a stroke in 2010 (3.4%) is higher than the percentage for Massachusetts (2.5%), and the prevalence of strokes in New Bedford increased by 1.9% since 2006.
What’s being done to address cardiovascular disease, and where can I learn more?
Fall River has been designated a “Heart Safe” community. This national initiative aims to increase the capacity of cities to deal with sudden cardiac arrests. This includes ensuring availability of key resources like adequate emergency care, CPR training, Automated Emergency Defibrillators (AEDs), and trained paramedics.
Both Fall River and New Bedford have Healthy Dining Programs. Under this program, establishments may apply to receive recognition (through a logo to be placed in their window or on their website) for meeting specific criteria related to healthy dining. For example, the establishment must offer at least two choices of fruits and/or vegetables (other than potatoes).
The SouthCoast Healthy Housing and Workplace Initiative (SCHHWI) aims to reduce heart and lung disease and other smoking-related illnesses by working with housing authorities, landlords, and employers to eliminate tobacco exposure.
Do you know of a program or policy designed to address this issue? Contact us so that we may share it here.
Mass in Motion is an umbrella program that aims to promote opportunities for healthy eating and active living. A number of initiatives are included in the Mass in Motion program. For instance, the Municipal Wellness and Leadership Grant Program provides funding and technical assistance for community-based obesity prevention efforts.
Executive Order 509 requires food purchased and served by state agencies in Massachusetts to adhere to nutrition standards set forth by the Department of Public Health.
National Programs and Policies
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health has a variety of nationwide initiatives. More information can be found here.
The American Heart Association runs a few awareness initiatives, including one initiative focused on cardiovascular health in women. More information can be found here.
Data sources and methods
- Information on heart disease prevalence and cost in the United States was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and can be found here.
- Information about cardiovascular disease worldwide was obtained from the World Health Organization, and is accessible here.
- Data on heart-related hospitalizations, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke were obtained from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Community Health Information Profile, Department of Public Health, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. More information can be found here.