Heart disease, which includes ischemic heart disease, coronary heart failure and other diseases of the heart, is the leading cause of death in Illinois and the United States. It accounts for more than half of all deaths due to cardiovascular disease. Heart disease can cause angina (chest pain), heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and sudden cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, a heart attack is usually the first sign of heart disease.
In 2003, more than 20,500 people died of heart disease in Illinois. Since 1979, the heart disease age-adjusted mortality rates in Illinois and the United States have decreased. In 2002, these mortality rates for Illinois and the United States were 478.3/100,000 and 467.6/100,000, respectively* (Figure 1).
Figure 1 . Heart Disease Mortality, Illinois and United States
Heart Disease Age-adjusted Mortality Rates by Gender and Race
In 2003, 14,144 men and 15,310 women died of heart disease. Males (overall), African Americans (overall), white men, African-American women and African-American men have higher heart disease age-adjusted mortality rates than the state as a whole (Figure 2). African-American men have the highest heart disease age-adjusted mortality rate (807.5/100,000) and women in the other races category (189.8/100,000) have the lowest rate.*
Figure 2: Heart Disease Age-adjusted Mortality Rates by Gender and Race
The heart disease age-adjusted mortality rate for the 35- to 64-year-old age group is 108.4.0/100,000 and for those 65 years and older is 1,604.3/100,000. Although heart disease age-adjusted mortality rates are lower for the 35- to 64-year-old age group, in 2003, heart disease was responsible for more than 5,200 deaths in this age category.*
Signs/Symptoms of Heart Attack
One of the factors demonstrated to play an important role in reducing the time delay between the onset of a heart attack and accessing emergency care is the public awareness of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.**&***
The warning signs for a heart attack are:
Less than half of all adults in Illinois can recognize all the signs and symptoms of a heart attack
(Figure 4). The percentage of adults in Cook County and the surrounding collar counties who recognize the symptoms of a heart attack is 45.3 percent compared to 50.5 percent downstate.
Men and women are equally likely to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack (approximately 47 percent).
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack varied by age groups with only 39.9 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 39 years, and 56.7 percent of those between 40 and 49 years of age recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Nearly half of white non-Hispanics (51.6 percent) were able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack; only 31.9 percent of other race/ethnicities were able to do this.
As income increases, the proportion of adults who can correctly identify the signs and symptoms of a heart attack increases, with a range of 32.2 percent for those in the low-income bracket (less than $25,000) and 57.2 percent for those in the highest income bracket (more than $75,000).
Approximately 39 percent of those with a high school or less than a high school education were able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack compared to approximately 52 percent of those with some college or a college education.
Figure 4. Percentage of Adults Who Can Correctly Identify Five to Six Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
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