Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.—and it seems as if the problem is only getting worse. Nearly half of American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, according to a new report released by the American Heart Association.
The report, the AHA’s annual Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update, was published in the journal Circulation on Thursday. For the gigantic report, a panel of experts looked at data from a range of sources (including government reports and clinical trials) to find statistics on cardiovascular disease, which was defined as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or high blood pressure.
The results showed that 48 percent of American adults (which is about 121.5 million people) have some form of heart disease, and that heart disease is also contributing to an increasing number of deaths. For instance, the report found that that there were 840,678 deaths from the disease in 2016, which is up from 836,546 in 2015.
This reality is something we should all be thinking about, Mariell Jessup, M.D., chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, tells SELF. “People need to see that number of 48 percent and realize the odds of an individual having some form of cardiovascular disease is very high,” she says.
The major issues often come down to lifestyle factors: lack of exercise, smoking, obesity, and not making lifestyle changes when other risk factors for heart disease are present. “The fact that humans have embraced an unhealthy lifestyle contributes to the fact that cardiovascular disease is the scourge of the United States and the rest of the world,” Dr. Jessup says.