Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more than 600,000 lives each year (source). The most common type of cardiovascular disease in the United States is coronary artery disease, which affects the blood flow to the heart (source). 

The most common types of cardiovascular disease in the United States are:

 Congestive heart failure
 Coronary artery disease
 Myocardial infarction

What causes Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease can be the result of lifestyle choices, other health conditions, age, or family history. There are three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.

Why is this a priority?

Although there have been positive improvements in all data indicators used to assess cardiovascular disease, rates in the Ozarks Health Commission (OHC) Region remain significantly higher than national averages—showing that there is still a lot of work to be done to decrease the burden of this disease.

What are our hospitals seeing?

The burden of cardiovascular disease is evident in area Emergency Departments (ED). Of all the AHI, 23.3% of visits to the ED in the OHC Region are due to issues related to the circulatory system.

What is our community seeing?

Community data indicators used to understand the scope of cardiovascular disease include: how many people live with cardiovascular disease, use tobacco, do not engage in adequate physical activity, and die from heart disease or stroke each year.

What does it cost?

More work needs to be done to address cardiovascular disease in the OHC Region, specifically as it relates to obesity. Obesity is a serious health concern that increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as other health issues. In the OHC Region, 32.2% of adults are obese (body mass index > 30).  Medical spending for an obese person is $1,429 more per year than for someone of normal weight. (source)Thus, the OHC Region incurs $451 million in additional medical costs due to obesity. 

What can communities do?

Communities can take an active role in reducing the impact of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. The OHC encourages communities to adopt evidence-based strategies. Below are some ideas for communities to consider when addressing cardiovascular disease.

Improve access to appropriate care. Building a community that supports individuals to access the right care at the right time is critical. Efforts can focus on reducing barriers to care, improved referrals between community organizations, enhancing the healthcare workforce, and advocating for change that positively increases access to appropriate care.

Reduce tobacco use. Communities can take multiple actions to decrease the impact of tobacco use. Developing, implementing, and connecting people to smoking cessation programs can provide timely support for individuals seeking to quit. Implementing public policies, such as clean indoor air and raising the legal age to purchase tobacco, can limit access and exposure to tobacco products.

Improve active living and healthy eating. Increasing individuals’ access to opportunities to be active and eat healthy are effective approaches to improving health. Efforts can focus on community programming to increase individual engagement in healthy living. Communities can also focus on building improved access to healthy living through efforts such as Complete Streets, increased access to active spaces like parks and greenways, and reducing food insecurity.

Focus on vulnerable populations. Some groups within a community may be more susceptible to cardiovascular disease or its effects. Communities should examine potentially vulnerable populations such as children, the poor, and certain racial groups. If disparities exist, community partners should determine appropriate approaches.

To see what our community is doing about this health priority, view our Community Health Improvement Plans: 

Freeman Health Systems CHIP
Mercy CHIP