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January 30, 2020/News Releases

Cleveland Clinic Survey: Most Americans Don’t Know Heart Disease Is Leading Cause of Death in Women

Survey finds Americans underestimate the threat of heart disease, don’t understand most risk factors are controllable

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A Cleveland Clinic survey finds that although heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, 68% of Americans do not know it’s the foremost killer of women.

According to the survey, many Americans incorrectly thought breast cancer was the leading cause of death in women, with men especially likely to think this (44% vs. 33%). Among Millennials, 80% could not identify heart disease as the leading cause of death in women. Heart disease accounts for one in every four deaths in the U.S.

The survey also found that many Americans didn’t recognize key symptoms of heart attacks in women. Many do not know that chest pain (24%), shortness of breath or sweating (28%), pain in the neck or back of jaw (43%), new or dramatic fatigue (55%) and nausea/ vomiting (60%) are signs of a heart attack in females.

Americans also don’t recognize that most heart disease is preventable – for both men and women. Even though 90% of heart disease is due to modifiable/controllable risk factors, only 8% of Americans know that.

Click on the image to see what Cleveland Clinic heart experts think Americans should know about heart disease.

The survey found there’s also a lot of confusion on what steps to take to prevent heart disease – and when. The survey found that:

  • 80% don’t know the proper time to start getting their cholesterol tested is in their 20s.
  • 29% mistakenly believing that a low-fat diet is healthiest for your heart.
  • Only 19% know that the Mediterranean diet is the most heart-healthy diet.
  • More than half (58%) misguidedly believe that taking an aspirin a day is a good way to prevent heart disease.

“Treatment of heart disease has come a long way in the past few decades, but we still need to work on prevention,” said Samir Kapadia, M.D., chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “There are so many simple changes that patients and the public can make that can provide significant improvements to their cardiovascular health.

Samir Kapadia, M.D.

“Whether it be regarding diet, exercise or other lifestyle factors, we need to continue to educate people about how to take control of their heart health.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • Vaping and the Heart: One-in-five (18%) Americans believe vaping e-cigarettes is not harmful to their heart health, and this belief is even higher among Millennials (26%).
  • Not Enough Exercise: The survey found that more than half (58%) of Americans get less than the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week, and 14% of Americans say they never exercise.
  • Worried about Their Hearts: Americans are concerned about their hearts. 63% of people across all age groups believe it’s likely they’ll develop heart disease in the next 10 years.

The survey was conducted as part of Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute’s “Love your Heart” consumer education campaign in celebration of American Heart Month. Cleveland Clinic has been ranked the No. 1 hospital in the country for cardiology and cardiac surgery for 25 years in a row by US News & World Report.

To view a Spanish version of this press release, click on the following link:
Encuesta realizada por Cleveland Clinic: la mayoría de los estadounidenses no saben que la enfermedad cardíaca es la principal causa de muerte en las mujeres

For more information, go to:clevelandclinic.org/loveyourheart

Few Americans Know Heart Disease Is Leading Cause of Death in Women | Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic’s survey of the general population gathered insights into Americans’ perceptions of heart health and prevention. This was an online survey conducted among a national probability sample consisting of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. The total sample data is nationally representative based on age, gender, ethnicity and educational attainment census data. The online survey was conducted by Dynata and completed between September 23 and September 26, 2018. The margin of error for the total sample at the 95% confidence level is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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