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Number of Women Diagnosed with Cardiovascular Disease Comparable to that of Men

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: May 9, 2006

A survey by the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that 12.9 million women and 11.7 million men ages 18 years and older reported being told by a doctor they had cardiovascular disease. In terms of percentages, slightly more than one in every 10 women and men (11.6 percent and 11.4 percent, respectively) had been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition.

Cardiovascular heart disease includes coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.

AHRQ data on women and cardiovascular disease also shows:

  • Roughly one-third of women ages 65 years and older have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, compared with 12.4 percent of those ages 45 to 64 years and 3.6 percent of younger adult women.
  • Nearly 22 percent of women who are no longer married have cardiovascular disease, compared with 9.8 percent of married women and 4.6 percent of single women.
  • Cardiovascular disease is diagnosed most often in non-Hispanic white women (13.4 percent) and least often in Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women (3.4 percent). Rates of cardiovascular disease diagnoses for Black and Hispanic women fall in between (9.9 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively).
  • Women account for nearly half (48.3 percent) of the more than 6 million annual hospital stays attributed to cardiovascular disease and other circulatory disorders.
  • Women also account for more than half of all hospital stays for nonspecific chest pain and congestive heart failure, as well as half the stays caused by irregular heartbeat, and 40 percent of stays attributed to heart attack and stroke.
  • One-third more women (9.3 percent) than men (6.2 percent) die in hospitals from heart attacks.

These statistics, which are from 2003, were drawn from the data files of AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and from Hospitalizations for Women with Circulatory Disease, 2003, HCUP Statistical Brief No. 5, available at

For more information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert about the findings, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.


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