State of the Heart: U.S. Faces Enormous Burden of Heart Disease and Stroke, Earning A Near-Failing Grade on Measures of Cardiovascular Death

In New Analysis, More than Half of U.S. States Receive a D or F on Cardiovascular Deaths Compared to Expert-Recommended Targets


WASHINGTON, D.C.— February 28, 2023 – Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more people each year than all forms of cancer and accidents combined. Take Health to Heart, an initiative of the Foundation of the National Lipid Association and the National Medical Association that seeks to reverse the rise in cardiovascular deaths, today released a new analysis, State of the Heart: Cardiovascular Disease Impact and Outlook in the United States. This first-of-its-kind set of resources aims to quantify the enormous burden of CVD and its risk factors at the national and state levels.

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is the most common and deadliest form of CVD, which can often lead to heart attack, stroke, and death. The new State of the Heart analysis assigns the nation and each state an ASCVD Impact Grade representing their performance on measures of cardiovascular death compared to expert-recommended targets. Overall, the country received a grade of D based on a comparison of 2020 national mortality rates from coronary heart disease and stroke to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 goals. The analysis also finds that millions more Americans are at risk for such dramatic outcomes, estimating that, conservatively, eight percent of Americans, or nearly 22.3 million adults, have been diagnosed with ASCVD. Meanwhile, ASCVD takes a severe economic toll on the nation, costing roughly $126 billion each year in direct medical expenses.

“Year after year, the statistics show that cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of Americans; deaths continue to rise even as we know more every day about how to prevent them,” said Dr. Ann M. Liebeskind, Vice President of the Foundation of the National Lipid Association. “From patients and doctors to state and federal elected officials, all of us must take action if we want to reverse this alarming trend.”

The analysis also finds that underserved communities face disproportionately poor CVD outcomes.

“While cardiovascular disease is a crisis for all Americans, underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, women, and rural Americans, continue to endure profound disparities in cardiovascular outcomes and care,” said Dr. Millard D. Collins, Family Medicine Section Chair of the National Medical Association. “To combat these disparities, we must not only improve the quality of care but also address the barriers that stand in the way of individuals being able to access care, treatment, and prevention in the first place.”

The ASCVD Impact Grades and estimates of ASCVD prevalence, mortality, and risk factors paint a stark picture for our country as a whole. 13 states and the District of Columbia received an F, and 14 states received a D – meaning they lag behind Healthy People 2030 goals by more than 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Take Health to Heart urges patients, clinicians, advocates, and policymakers to use these resources to better understand the need for changes to improve ASCVD outcomes by addressing the policy and socioeconomic barriers that hinder access to ASCVD care and treatment, including insurance practices that delay access to treatment and the social determinants of health which contribute to poor outcomes.

The national report and individual state fact sheets are available here. Visit the Take Health to Heart website to learn more about our policy agenda to stop the rise in cardiovascular deaths, and join the dialogue on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Take Health to Heart

Take Health to Heart is an education and advocacy initiative of the Foundation of the National Lipid Association and the National Medical Association. Take Health to Heart is made possible through a sponsorship from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

About the Foundation of the National Lipid Association

The Foundation of the National Lipid Association is a non-profit organization focused on providing education and resources to help patients and their families manage and overcome lipid-related health problems that may put them at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

About the National Medical Association

The National Medical Association is the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States, serving as the collective voice of more than 50,000 physicians nationwide.