Heart Care: Just the Facts!

By: Franciscan Health Last Updated: September 1, 2012

Heart-Shape-HandsThe fact is knowledge is power and the numbers show that even subtle chest pain needs to be taken seriously.

Here are the sad figures that we face every day.

  • In 2008, over 616,000 people died of heart disease.Heart disease caused almost 25% of deaths—almost 1 in every 4—in the United States.1
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. 1
  • Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks will have another attack.2
  • In 2010, coronary heart disease alone was projected to cost the United States $108.9 billion.3 This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. For American Indians or Alaska Natives and Asians or Pacific Islanders, heart disease is second only to cancer. Below is the percentage of all deaths caused by heart disease in 2008, listed by ethnicity.1

Race of Ethnic Group % of Deaths

  • African Americans 24.4
  • American Indians or Alaska Natives 17.9
  • Asians or Pacific Islanders 23.2
  • Hispanics 20.7
  • Whites 25.1
  • In a 2005 survey, most respondents—92%—recognized chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack. Only 27% were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a heart attack.4
  • About 47% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This suggests that many people with heart disease don't act on early warning signs.5

We think everyone knows someone who has had a heart attack. We hear the doctors talking about the warning signs, and risk factors but are we listening. Please know that your family and friends want to have you in their lives. If the thought “Heart Attack” crosses your mind when you have slight chest discomfort and just not feeling well; then LISTEN, and call 911.

Don’t become a statistic, your too important for that. We should all agree to the goal of removing heart disease as the #1 leading cause of death.

Submitted by Karen Callahan, RN, and Renne Pfister, RN, Chest Pain Center Coordinators at Franciscan St. Margaret Health

The Chest Pain Centers at both Franciscan St. Margaret Health’s Hammond and Dyer campuses were the first accredited centers in Northwest Indiana and only two of 27 in the state. Accreditation by the Society of Chest Pain Centers means that you can be confident that our Emergency and Cardiac departments have the right specialists, processes and equipment in place to provide the highest level of care for patients experiencing chest pain.


1. Miniño AM, Murphy SL, Xu J, Kochanek KD. Deaths: Final data for 2008. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 59 no 10. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2011.
2. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. Epub 2011 Dec 15.
3. Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, et al. Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123:933-44. Epub 2011 Jan 24.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disparities in Adult Awareness of Heart Attack Warning Signs and Symptoms—14 States, 2005. MMWR. 2008;57(7):175–179.
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Specific Mortality from Sudden Cardiac Death: United States, 1999. MMWR. 2002;51(6):123–126.
6. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010: With Special Feature on Death and Dying. Hyattsville, MD.
7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Multiple Risk Factors for Heart Disease and Stroke—United States, 2003. MMWR. 2005;54(5):113–117.