5 highlights from the CDC’s latest report on heart disease

The CDC’s most recent Health, United States report, released this April, reveals the extent to which racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. affect cardiovascular care and rates of heart disease in the country.

The annual report, produced by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), draws on information from the NCHS and National Health Interview Survey to explore differences in the rates of heart disease mortality, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and cholesterol among four distinct groups: Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic Asians or Pacific Islanders.

These are five highlights from the report, which considered data from 1999 through 2017:

1. Black patients were more than twice as likely as Asians or Pacific Islanders to die of heart disease in both 1999 and 2017.

Non-Hispanic blacks saw the highest CVD-related death rates in 2017, with an average 208 deaths per 100,000 people in the population (an improvement from 1999’s rate of 337 deaths per 100,000 population). Non-Hispanic whites were second-most likely to die of heart disease, at a rate of 169 deaths per 100,000 population, while non-Hispanic Asians or Pacific Islanders came in last, at 86 deaths per 100,000 population.

2. Non-Hispanic whites are the only demographic whose rate of CVD declined over the 18-year period.

In 2017, 11.5% of non-Hispanic white adults, 9.5% of non-Hispanic black adults, 7.4% of Hispanic adults and 6% of non-Hispanic Asian adults had heart disease, according to the report. That marked a decrease since 1999 for non-Hispanic whites, but all other groups’ rates of CVD remained stable over the study period.

3. Black adults aged 20 and up were by far the most likely group to have hypertension between 2015 and 2016.

Blacks saw a hypertension prevalence of 42.1% in 2015 and 2016, but that rate was far higher than in other demographics. Hispanics’ rate of hypertension was 29.4%, non-Hispanic whites’ was 28.7% and non-Hispanic Asians’ was 27.2%. For the purposes of their study, the NCHS considered hypertension as a BP of 140/90 mmHg or higher.

4. Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks were most likely to have diabetes and be obese in 2015 and 2016.

While non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic Asians had lower rates of obesity (38.2% and 12.4%, respectively), and diabetes (13% and 14.5%, respectively), in 2015 and 2016, rates were highest in Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks. Blacks saw the highest rate of obesity (47.5%), while Hispanics had the highest rate of diabetes (21.5%).

5. Total cholesterol levels were relatively similar among all demographics between 2015 and 2016.

Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic Asians saw nearly identical rates of high total cholesterol in the two-year period—11.2%, 10.2% and 10.7%, respectively. Non-Hispanic whites were statistically equally likely to have high total cholesterol, but were the most distinct demographic with a high total cholesterol rate of 12.6%.