in Western North Carolina

Why is heart disease and stroke a key health issue in western North Carolina?

The percent of adults in WNC diagnosed with Heart disease has risen from 6.5% in 2015 to 8% in 2018. 

(WNCHN – WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

Click on the counties listed in "Change Filter" on top of the chart to select which counties you want to view.

Survey Question:

Has a doctor, nurse or other health professional EVER told you that you had any of the following: A heart attack, also called a Myocardial Infarction, Angina, or Coronary Heart Disease? (Yes/No)

What do the numbers say about heart disease and stroke?

Western North Carolina (WNC) Data:

Eight percent (8%) of adults in WNC have been diagnosed with heart disease in 2018. 

The following adult populations were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease in WNC:

- Men (10%)

- Adults aged 40-64 (10.1%) and 65+ (14%)

(WNCHN – WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

The percent of adults in WNC who have been diagnosed with stroke in 2018 is similar to percentages for North Carolina (3.9%) and the US(4.7%).

(WNCHN – WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

Diseases of the heart is ranked as the #1 or #2 leading cause of death in all 16 WNC counties in 2014-2018. 

(N.C. State Center for Health Statistics, 2020)

This map shows the mortality rate per 100,000 people from diseases of the heart for all census tracts in western North Carolina from 2012 to 2016.


NC SCHS 2012-2016
Geographic Unit: 

Census Tract
Map Produced by: 


The percent of adults in WNC diagnosed with high blood pressure is consistently higher than the percentages for North Carolina and the United States in 2012, 2015, and 2018. 

(WNCHN – WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

1 in 3 adults in WNC have been diagnosed with high cholesterol in 2018.

(WNCHN - WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

Approximately 2 out of 3 adults in WNC were considered overweight or obese in 2018. 

(WNCHN – WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey, 2018)

State & National Findings:

In 2016, North Carolina had a rate of 155.8 heart disease related deaths (per 100,000 population) compared to the US at 165.5.

(CDC, 2018)

By 2030, almost half (43.9%) of the US adult population is projected to have some form of Cardiovascular Disease.

     (American Heart Association, 2017)

In 2016, hospitalization charges for heart disease in North Carolina cost an estimated $5.1 billion dollars.

(N.C. State Center for Health Statistics, 2018)

What did the region say is the story behind the heart disease and stroke numbers?

Source: WNCHN - Online Key Informant Survey, 2018

 The items below are paraphrased themes that emerged from a 2018 regional survey of key informants. These responses do not necessarily:

    •Reflect accurate or scientifically validated information about health determinants, outcomes, and/or strategies for change, 
    •Represent an exhaustive list of factors that can help or hurt efforts to address this key regional health issue.
The information in this section should be interpreted and used with care. It should be used only to help local health departments and agencies begin to understand community perceptions about local health issues. Communities are strongly encouraged to collect their own, local-level data to inform local planning and evaluation activities.

“Employee health programs at the school system and county level reshaping culture to promote healthy lifestyles and allowing time for employees to go for a walk or other activities. Education programs surrounding healthier food choices. Efforts to increase parks in town.” 

“Diabetic and healthy weight-related information is being more effectively communicated.”

“[A local care management program], serving the uninsured with a primary care home, getting people in for risk assessments and annual wellness visits.”

“People are oftentimes too busy with daily living to give it a thought. They think the possible bad implications are too far down the road to worry with it now. Often, people are only jolted when a cardiac event happens in their immediate family or to a close friend.” 

“High deductibles or no health insurance prevents people from being tested. People might not even know they have heart problems until it's too late.” 

How is the region prioritizing this issue?

The western North Carolina region includes 17 communities: 16 counties and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI)

In the 2018 CHA cycle, one community prioritized heart disease. 

10 communities chose a priority related to obesity, healthy eating, & active living.

In addition, 6 communities prioritized chronic disease.

Learn more about how counties in western North Carolina work to determine their local community health priorities by watching the video (right). 

What is already happening regionally?

The list below represents a sample of what is happening in the region around this key health issue. Visit www.nc211.org for more resources. 

Chronic Disease Self-Management (Healthy Aging NC)

Know It Control It (KICI) (Multiple local health departments and senior resource centers in the region)

Worksite Wellness Grant (MountainWise)

The regional dataset (WNC Healthy Impact Community Health Survey and Online Key Informant Survey) is available thanks to contributions from hospitals in the 16-county region of western North Carolina. Thank you!