Heart Disease – The #1 Killer
As a category for all cardiovascular diseases, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States — responsible for one in every three deaths. The World Health Organization estimates that cardiovascular diseases account for more than 16 million deaths worldwide each year, far surpassing mortality due to HIV-related diseases and cancer.
As a subset of heart disease, atherosclerosis is the formation of plaques caused primarily by the accumulation of cholesterol and macrophages in human arteries. These plaques lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Nearly 14 million people in the U.S. are afflicted with coronary heart disease. According to American Heart Association figures, over 80 million Americans suffer from some form of heart disease.
The annual cost of cardiovascular disease to the U.S. economy is estimated at $368 billion — higher than the costs associated with all cancers and HIV combined. Coronary heart disease alone accounts for $133 billion of that figure. Strokes also contribute significantly to the total cost of cardiovascular disease.