Report: Nearly 50 Percent of U.S. Adults Have Cardiovascular Disease

Stats reflect updated guidelines for blood pressure

Nearly half of all U.S. adults have some type of cardiovascular disease, a percentage that reflects recently updated guidelines for treating high blood pressure, according to a new report. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

“We’re becoming more and more aware of the importance of high blood pressure. Levels we used to think were normal we now associate with worse outcomes, and treating them makes a big difference,” said Dr. Emelia J. Benjamin, professor of cardiology at Boston University and chair of the group of authors responsible for the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2019 Update.

The report, published Thursday in the AHA journal Circulation, has been released annually since 1958 and is based on data from the National Institutes of Health and other government sources. This year’s report said 121.5 million adults in the U.S. have cardiovascular disease. That figure would equate to about 48 percent of the adult population.

Heart disease was the leading cause of death in the United States last year, and stroke was the fifth-leading cause.

In November 2017, the AHA and American College of Cardiology updated the definition of high blood pressure as a reading of 130/80 millimeters of mercury, compared to the previous definition of 140/90. This is a partial driver of the uptick in numbers.

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