CDC Releases First-Ever Report On Heart Disease Hospitalizations
Heart disease hospitalization rates among Americans aged 65 years and
older vary substantially depending on where they live, according to a
report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The "Atlas of Heart Disease Hospitalizations Among Medicare
Beneficiaries" shows that the highest hospitalization rates occur among
blacks compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Hospitalization
rates were also highest in counties located primarily in Appalachia, the
Mississippi Delta, Texas and Oklahoma. A significant number of Medicare
beneficiaries live in counties without hospitals capable of providing
specialized heart disease treatment.
The atlas provides for the first time statistics about heart disease
hospitalizations at the county level. Data came from the Medicare
records of more than 28 million people each year between 2000 and 2006
in the 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin
Islands. The report documented an average of 2.1 million
hospitalizations for heart disease each year.
"These data bring into sharp focus the differences in heart disease
hospitalization rates that exist across this country," said Michele
Casper, Ph.D., epidemiologist in CDC's Division for Heart Disease and
Stroke Prevention. "Importantly, with county-level information, health
professionals at the local, state and national levels will be able to
tailor heart disease prevention programs and policies to the needs of
people living in communities with high rates of heart disease."
Heart disease is the nation's leading cause of death. In 2010, it is
estimated to cost the United States $316.4 billion in health care
services, medications and lost productivity.
In states with the highest heart disease hospitalization rate, the
burden is generally two times higher than states with the lowest rates.
For instance, in Louisiana there were 95.2 hospitalizations for every
1,000 Medicare beneficiaries, compared with 44.8 in Hawaii over the same
The atlas also brings to light significant racial and ethnic
disparities. The heart disease hospitalization rate is much higher among
blacks (85.3 hospitalizations per 1,000 beneficiaries) than for whites
(74.4 per 1,000) or Hispanics (73.6 per 1,000). While these rates
declined slowly between 2000 and 2006 for Hispanic and white Americans
aged 65 years and older, they remained steady among older black
The atlas also points out geographical differences in access to
hospitals with the capability to treat heart disease patients. In 2005,
21 percent of all counties in the United States had no hospital, and 31
percent lacked a hospital with an emergency room. Specialized cardiac
services are even more limited, with 63 percent of U.S. counties lacking
a cardiologist outside the Veterans Affairs system.
"Heart disease is largely preventable, and reducing the toll of this
disease on society is a national priority," said Darwin Labarthe, M.D.,
Ph.D., director of CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke
Prevention. "With targeted public health efforts, such as prevention and
early identification of risk factors, and increased access to
appropriate medical care, the burden of heart disease can be reduced."
The atlas is the sixth in a series of CDC atlases related to heart
disease and stroke. The full atlas is available at
For more information about heart disease and stroke visit
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Contact: CDC Division of Media Relations