Study: Heart Disease Kills 13% More People in the South Than US Average


The databases also provided information on the cost of Medicare, the number of uninsured Americans, and those living in poverty.

Data from the CDC on heart disease in the United States found that the population’s susceptibility to heart disease varies depending on the state and county, according to an analysis from ValuePenguin.

ValuePenguin consolidated the CDC’s state and county information for middle-aged adults between aged 45 and 64 years, as well as seniors to break down the effects that heart attacks, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and stroke have on communities across the country. The most recent data was compiled from deaths per 100,000 residents, from 2016 to 2018. The databases also provided information on the cost of Medicare, the number of uninsured Americans, and those living in poverty.

The analysis showed that people living in the South are disproportionately affected by fatal heart conditions, including heart attacks, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and strokes. Further, heart disease is responsible for more fatalities relative to population in the South than the rest of the country, with the rate of fatal cases being nearly 1/8 higher than average.

Of all the states, Mississippi had the highest rate of deaths from all forms of heart disease relative to its population, with 301 fatal cases of heart disease per 100,000 people. Arkansas led the country in fatal heart attacks and coronary heart disease, where the rate at which people died from heart attacks was triple the country’s average, according to the analysis.

In Oklahoma, hypertension killed 123% more people than average, whereas people in Mississippi were the most likely to die from strokes, though its population had only a 38% greater chance of experiencing a fatal stroke than the rest of the country.

The analysis also found that men have a much greater risk than women of dying from heart disease and are approximately 3 times as likely as women to die from coronary heart disease or a heart attack.

Additionally, the CDC found that Black Americans were more likely to die from heart disease than other groups. Compared to the average of all other races, middle-aged Black men and women were more than 2 times more likely to die from hypertension and strokes.

In 9 of the 10 counties with the highest proportion of cardiovascular deaths, more than 20% of residents were below the poverty line, according to the analysis. Lack of access to health care can be another problem facing areas that have notably high rates of cardiovascular deaths. Of the 10 counties most at risk of fatal cases of heart disease, there were 4 counties with 0 hospitals. While the number of uninsured residents in the most at-risk counties is mostly aligned with the national average, the cost of Medicare per capita is higher than average in 6 of 10.


Heart disease kills 13% more people than average in the southern United States. ValuePenguin. Published September 14, 2020. Accessed September 23, 2020.

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