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Missoula Measures - Heart Disease

graph Montana and US residents who have been told they have high cholesterol 1999-2013

graph Montana and US residents who have been told their blood pressure is high 1999-2013 



Why this topic?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Together, heart disease and stroke are among the most widespread and costly health problems facing the Nation today, accounting for more than $500 billion in health care expenditures and related expenses in 2010 alone. Fortunately, they are also among the most preventable.

The leading modifiable (controllable) risk factors for heart disease and stroke are:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor diet and sedentary lifestyle
  • Overweight and obesity

Over time, these risk factors cause changes in the heart and blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes. It is critical to address risk factors early in life to prevent the potentially devastating complications of chronic cardiovascular disease.

The risk of Americans developing and dying from cardiovascular disease would be substantially reduced if major improvements were made across the U.S. population in diet and physical activity, control of high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking cessation, and appropriate aspirin use.  Healthy People 2020

Missoula's rates of death from heart disease or strokes are less than the state, and that is partially skewed by the influence of the realtively young UM population.


People with hypertension (high blood pressure) have three to four times the risk of developing coronary heart disease (heart attacks and angina), and as much as seven times the risk of stroke as do people with normal blood pressure. Hypertension, which usually has no symptoms or warning signs, is called "the silent killer;" about 35% of the people with high blood pressure are not aware of it.

Between 1999 and 2003, about 25% of Montanans reported that they had been told they had high blood pressure. Mt. BRFSS


graph High Cholesterol state comparisons 2013

graph High Blood Pressure state comparison 2013 

Healthy People 2020 Targets

  Baseline Target
Stroke death rate 42 /100,000 34 /100,000
Heart disease death rate 126 /100,000 108 /100,000
Percent of adults who had their cholesterol checked in past 5 years 75 82

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Related data

Risk factors

Smoking, obesity, high fat diet, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history.  Other risk factor graphs


The causal relationship of high blood cholesterol to coronary heart disease also has been demonstrated. Coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity increase as blood cholesterol levels rise (HP 2000). Total cholesterol is defined as high at 240 and borderline high at 200.

Reducing dietary fat intake to an average of 30% of calories or less and average saturated fat intake to less than 10% of calories are dietary guidelines which can help reduce serum cholesterol levels. Other options include exercise programs and prescription medications.


graph Montana and US residents who have had their cholesterol checked in past 5 years 1999-2013 

State and National Behavior Risk Survey Trend Data

Other Missoula heart disease data including Missoula/Montana Heart Disease/Stroke Mortality Rates.

Factors influencing cardiovascular disease

Many factors influence not only whether a person will develop coronary heart disease but also how rapidly atherosclerosis progresses. Genetic predisposition, gender, and advancing age are recognized factors over which individuals have no control. Key modifiable factors include cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, excessive body weight, and long-term physical inactivity (HP 2000).


Related websites

American Heart Association

Links to health data, statistics and information from many national sources.


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