Cardiovascular Diseases

There are many different diseases that affect the heart and other parts of the cardiovascular system, including:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Heart attack (acute myocardial infarction)
  • Stroke
  • Heart valve disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
  • Pericardial disease
  • Aorta disease and Marfan syndrome
  • Vascular disease (blood vessel disease)


The cardiovascular system, also called the heart and circulatory system, make up the network that delivers blood to the body's tissues. With each heartbeat, blood is sent throughout our bodies, carrying oxygen and nutrients to all of our cells.

Traumatic cardiovascular conditions damage portions of the heart and can be fatal. People who survive a heart attack often face a diminished quality of life and long-term health problems. Other cardiovascular diseases also create serious short and long-term problems for their victims.

Although great progress has been made in developing surgical and drug treatments for many heart and cardiovascular conditions, they are still the top causes of disease and death in our country.



Human and Social Costs

Although heart disease and stroke are often thought to primarily affect men and older people, they are also major killers of women and people in the prime of life. In Texas, heart disease is the leading cause of death.

Heart disease and stroke remain two of the top killers of Americans and pose a significant threat to millions of others, according to the American Heart Association's Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update 2014, published in its journal Circulation.
The update reflects the most up-to-date statistics on heart disease, stroke, other vascular diseases and their risk factors. It is the only source for current prevalence data on cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. and stroke is the No. 4 cause. The association compiles this update with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies.
What follows is information from the new Heart Disease, Stroke and Research Statistics at a Glance – a simple look at commonly referenced facts and figures from our statistical update.


Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases
•    More than 787,000 people in the U.S. died from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in 2010. That's about one of every three deaths in America.
•    About 2,150 Americans die each day from these diseases, one every 40 seconds.
•    Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
•    About 83.6 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke.
•    Direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke total more than $315.4 billion. That includes health expenditures and lost productivity.
•    Nearly half of all African-American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, 49 percent of women and 44 percent of men.
•    Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the world and the leading cause of death in the United States, killing almost 380,000 Americans a year.
•    Heart disease accounts for 1 in 6 deaths in the U.S.
•    Someone in the U.S. dies from heart disease about once every 90 seconds.


Heart Disease
•    Over the past 10 years for which statistics are available, the death rate from heart disease has fallen about 39 percent – but the burden and risk factors remain alarmingly high.
•    Heart disease strikes someone in the U.S. about once every 34 seconds.
•    Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing almost 380,000 people a year.
•    Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
•    Over the past 10 years for which statistics are available, the death rate from heart disease has fallen about 39 percent.
•    Over 39,000 African-Americans died from heart disease in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
•    Cardiovascular operations and procedures increased about 28 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to federal data, totaling about 7.6 million in 2010.
•    About 720,000 people in the U.S. have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 122,000 die.
•    About 620,000 people in the U.S. have a first-time heart attack each year, and about 295,000 have recurrent heart attacks.


•    Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death in the United States, killing more than 129,000 people a year.
•    Stroke kills someone in the U.S. about once every four minutes.
•    Over the past 10 years, the death rate from stroke has fallen about 36 percent and the number of stroke deaths has dropped about 23 percent.
•    About 795,000 people have a stroke every year.
•    Someone in the U.S. has a stroke about once every 40 seconds.
•    Someone in the U.S. dies from a stroke every four minutes.
•    Stroke causes 1 of every 19 deaths in the U.S.
•    Stroke is a leading cause of disability.
•    Stroke is the leading preventable cause of disability.
•    African-Americans have nearly twice the risk for a first-ever stroke than white people, and a much higher death rate from stroke.



Source: CDC

The Costs of Disease Are Staggering

Heart disease and stroke, the first and fourth leading causes of death for men and women, are among the most widespread and costly health problems facing our nation today, yet they also are among the most preventable. The number of cardiovascular disease patients and the economic effects of cardiovascular disease on the U.S. health care system are increasing as our population ages.

Overall, death rates for heart disease and stroke have decreased in the United States in recent decades. However, rates for incidence and death continue to be high, especially among some populations, including members of certain racial and ethnic groups, people with low socioeconomic status, and those living in the southeastern United States.

Death rates alone cannot describe the burden of heart disease and stroke. In 2010, the total costs of cardiovascular diseases in the United States were estimated to be $444 billion. Treatment of these diseases accounts for about $1 of every $6 spent on health care in this country. As the U.S. population ages, the economic impact of cardiovascular diseases on our nation's health care system will become even greater.

Heart disease and stroke also are among the leading causes of disability in the United States, with nearly 4 million people reporting disability from these causes in 2007.

Estimated Direct and Indirect Costs of Major Cardiovascular Diseases United States, 2010



Potential for Cures

Many forms of cardiovascular disease could benefit from stem cell research. Cell therapy holds great promise for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

For the past 2 decades, investigators have been developing methods to implant various types of cells to heal the heart and improve the recovery of the damaged hearts.

The characterization of the different cell sources, however, is sometimes challenging, and the individual subtypes of adult stem/progenitor cells may have advantages but also limitations when considered for treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

In addition to the challenges of the appropriate use of the different cell types, different strategies might be more useful than others in augmenting the homing, integration, and survival of transplanted cells, which is a requirement for successful cell therapy.

Thus, cell therapy research for cardiovascular disease also involves the study of biomaterials, small molecules, genes, and the development of tools to monitor cells activities once they are introduced to the body.

Continued access and support for stem cell research are critical and all of these areas of research are equally important to experimental studies and critical to refining the best treatments, materials and delivery tools for the different patient populations suffering from cardiovascular disease.

Stem cell research is strongly supported by the overwhelming majority of medical researchers; medical organizations.



Recent Advances & Ongoing Research

SCIPIO Trial showed cardiac stem cells benefited heart failure patients.  SCIPIO trial made headlines after demonstrating that intracoronary infusion of c-kit-positive cells in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy led to reduction in infarct size by 24% at six months and 30% at one year.

Stem Cells and the Heart CCTRN investigators and specialists on stem cells and heart research talk about new ways to repair hearts and prevent future heart problems. [Listen to Morning Show with Carrie Miller]

Replacing Body Parts Custom-made hearts, lungs, and kidneys could revolutionize organ transplantation. [Watch NOVA]

Stem Cells Untold Stories [Watch Episode]