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Heart Disease
Heart Disease

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a costly and deadly burden to the state of Ohio. In 2016, heart disease killed more than 26,000 Ohioans, and Ohio had the 13th highest rate of deaths from heart disease in the nation.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death both in Ohio and the United States.  Nationally, 1 out of every 4 deaths is due to heart disease.  Heart disease includes several different diseases and conditions including coronary heart disease (CHD), myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) and heart failure. CHD is the most common type of heart disease and is caused by a buildup of plaque along the walls of arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart. This reduction in blood flow can cause recurrent chest pain (angina) or, if severe, can deprive heart muscle of oxygen and cause an MI. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is too weak to pump blood well enough to supply the body with a sufficient amount of oxygenated blood.

In addition to being the leading cause of death, heart disease can lead to decreased quality of life, increased disability and higher healthcare costs.  Many people who have heart disease have other chronic conditions as well.  Most adults have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease. 


Heart disease is a costly and deadly burden to the state of Ohio.  In 2016, heart disease killed more than 26,000 Ohioans, and Ohio had the 13th highest rate of deaths from heart disease in the nation.  Ohio’s age-adjusted rate of deaths from heart disease (185.1 per 100,000) was 12 percent higher than the rate for the United States.  Heart disease is a major health burden for all populations regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, age and geography. 

In 2016, 4.9 percent of adults in Ohio were living with coronary heart disease and 5.0 percent had suffered a heart attack.  Men had a significantly higher prevalence of heart disease than women.  The prevalence of heart disease is highest among older Ohioans and those with the lowest income and education.  The prevalence of heart disease in 2016 did not differ significantly by race or ethnicity.

While the prevalence of heart disease did not differ by race, black Ohioans had a 19 percent higher age-adjusted heart disease death rate in 2016 compared with whites.  Men in Ohio were 61 percent more likely to die from heart disease than women.  Black men had the highest rate of heart disease deaths (273.8 per 100,000) in Ohio in 2016. The heart disease death rate in Ohio varied greatly by county in 2016. The county with the highest age-adjusted death rate (Fayette County) had a rate 2.3 times higher than the county with the lowest rate (Putnam County) {INSERT LINK TO THE MAP}.

Risk Factors

Heart disease is caused by a complex set of risk factors that include genetics, environment, clinical risk factors (e.g., high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol) and behaviors. Individuals are more likely to have heart disease if they have other chronic diseases, are obese, use tobacco, drink alcohol in excess, eat a poor diet or are not physically active.

Ohio adults who have ever smoked were more than two times as likely to have heart disease than those who never smoked, and obese adults were almost twice as likely to have heart disease compared to those with a healthy weight, according to 2016 data.  Certain conditions put an individual at a much greater risk for developing heart disease.  In 2016, 73.1 percent of adults in Ohio with heart disease also had hypertension and 69.4 percent also had high blood cholesterol.  Adults in Ohio with heart disease were also more likely than those without heart disease to have asthma, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Prevention and Management

People can decrease their risk for developing heart disease by maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, not using tobacco products and visiting their doctor for annual checkups.   For those who already have heart disease, healthy eating and physician-approved physical activity are key to managing heart disease. 

It is estimated that one in three people with hypertension do not know that their blood pressure is elevated and are not receiving any kind of treatment.  Many of those individuals have health insurance and see a healthcare provider regularly.  When healthcare systems and providers use population health strategies such as utilizing their electronic health records to identify patients with undiagnosed hypertension, their risk of heart disease and stroke can be dramatically improved.  In fact, population health strategies adopted by healthcare systems and providers such as team-based care and referrals to appropriate community resources can also improve management of patients with diagnosed chronic conditions.  

After a person is diagnosed with hypertension, high blood cholesterol or another chronic condition, it is vital that the patient and providers act as a team to implement the best plan for the management of their condition.  Often that plan includes medication to protect the body, but it is only effective if taken correctly.  Inclusion of pharmacists as members of the healthcare team, especially in the provision of medication therapy management, can dramatically improve disease control rates and medication adherence.  Clinical pharmacists can improve patient outcomes, reduce medical emergencies, prevent adverse drug events, and reinforce proper disease management messages when counseling patients. 

In addition to care from the healthcare team, there are numerous community-based programs and resources that can support an individual’s management of their condition.  There are resources for healthy eating and active living across the state in addition to community supports such as blood pressure cuff lending programs at libraries, churches and barbershops.  Self-management education classes and programs often do not require a referral by a healthcare provider. However, these classes/programs tend to have higher participation and retention rates and better health outcomes when people are referred by a healthcare provider.