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2004 National Healthcare Quality Report

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Effectiveness: Heart Disease

Importance and Measures

Heart, or cardiovascular, disease is a collection of diseases of the heart and blood vessels that includes heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Prevalence and Incidence

  • Sixty-four million Americans live with heart disease—almost one-fourth of the U.S. population1.

Morbidity and Mortality

  • Heart disease, along with other cardiovascular disease and stroke, causes more American deaths among men, women, and most racial and ethnic groups than any other disease2, 3. In addition there is a significant State variation in the death rate for both heart disease and stroke4.
  • Heart failure affects 2 to 3 million Americans. It affects 5% of people over age 75, with 400,000 new cases of heart failure each year5. The death rate from heart failure has more than doubled from 1972 to 2002, while the death rate from other cardiovascular diseases dropped by 56% during the same period4.
  • Half of the deaths from heart attack occur before a person reaches a hospital6.


The cost of heart disease and stroke in the United States is projected to be $368 billion in 20041, including health care expenditures and lost productivity from death and disability.


The NHQR tracks several quality measures for preventing and treating heart disease, including screening and management of cholesterol and hypertension (high blood pressure) and treatment of heart attack and acute heart failurei. Measures highlighted in this section include:

  • Awareness, treatment, and control of cholesterol
  • Administration of beta-blockers to heart attack patients
  • Administration of ACE inhibitors to heart failure patients

i Note that the 2003 NHQR tracks screening for high blood pressure using the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Data on this measure from NHIS are not available for the 2004 NHQR. In order to track this important measure, the 2004 NHQR uses NHANES data. Further details on the data sources are contained in the Measure Specifications Appendix.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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