Survey finds Americans underestimate the threat of heart disease, don’t understand most risk factors are controllable
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.
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. There are so many simple changes that patients and the public can make that can provide significant improvements to their cardiovascular health,” said Samir Kapadia, M.D., chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “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 and 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.
For more information, go to: clevelandclinic.org/loveyourheart
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. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 66,000 employees are more than 4,200 salaried physicians and researchers and 16,600 nurses, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic’s health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 11 regional hospitals in northeast Ohio, more than 180 northern Ohio outpatient locations – including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers – and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2018, there were 7.9 million total outpatient visits, 238,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 220,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CCforMedia and twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.