The States with the Most (and Least) Deadly Heart Attacks
Heart disease claims 610,000 American lives—accounting for about one in every four deaths—each year. Find out how your home state measures up.
Most: West Virginia
West Virginia ranks tenth worst in the country when it comes to rates of heart disease-related deaths. Around 192 deaths out of every 100,000 people in West Virginia were due to deadly heart attacks in 2017, according data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The national rate of heart disease deaths, by comparison, was just 165. The CDC report also found that more than 35 percent of adult West Virginians are obese, one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease.
Kentucky Fried Chicken got its start in—you guessed it—Kentucky. Believe it or not, this U.S. state has been known for its crispy chicken for over 75 years. But the fried food’s popularity could spell trouble for locals in the state, which ranks ninth worst for death rate due to heart disease: According to the CDC, just under 196 deaths per 100,000 Kentuckians were caused by heart disease in 2017.
The CDC estimates that 196 out of 100,000 deaths in Michigan were linked to heart disease in 2017, putting it eighth on the list for deadly heart disease. Judging from a 2018 study by WalletHub—which named Michigan’s largest city Detroit “the most stressed city in America” due to high poverty and divorce rates—soaring stress levels might have played a part. Learn more about the most (and least) stressed cities in America.
Nevada reported a rate of about 199 deadly heart attacks per 100,000 people in 2017—making it the seventh worst state. In this case, lack of sleep could be the culprit. Researchers for WalletHub found that residents of Las Vegas, Nevada’s largest city, sleep the least number of hours per night. Skimping on sleep can increase your risk of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular issues, sleep experts say.
In Tennessee—sixth on the list—202 deaths out of 100,000 people were caused by heart disease in 2017, according to the CDC. Though the state’s ranking has dropped over the past decade, heart disease and strokes still claim one out of three Tennessean lives each year, the Tennessee Department of Health reports. If you want to lower your risk, check out these 45 things that heart doctors do to protect their own hearts.
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In Louisiana, heart disease claims more lives than any other cause; deadly heart attacks accounted for about 214 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2017 alone, putting the state at fifth worst. Unhealthy diets might put Louisiana locals in harm’s way. In a 2018 study by WalletHub, people living in Baton Rouge were among the highest percentage of adults eating fewer than one serving of fruits or vegetables per day. These are the 15 unhealthiest cities in America.
The state of Alabama has the most fast food restaurants in the country, according to a 2018 report by Datafiniti—and all of those options could be taking a serious toll on Alabamans’ health. The CDC ranks Alabama the fourth deadliest state for heart attacks, with a rate of around 223 deaths per 100,000 people. Don’t ignore the surprising signs you might be headed for a heart attack.
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Arkansas ranks third highest in the country for heart disease with 224 deaths from it per 100,000 people. Arkansas also has the highest concentration of McDonald’s stores in the nation (nearly 6 for every 100,000 residents!). That’s almost twice the concentration of Mickey D’s in North Dakota (which ranks among the lowest for rate of deadly heart attacks). Don’t miss these additional mind-blowing facts about McDonald’s.
Bad news, Mississippians: Not only does your state have the second-worst rate for deadly heart attacks—at 232 per 100,000 people—but your state also has some of the highest rates for cancer, stroke, lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and kidney disease. These are the 20 U.S. states with the highest cancer rates.
The most: Oklahoma
Coming in at number one is the state of Oklahoma, where heart disease killed 10,772 people in 2017. That rounds out to an estimated 237 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. While most Oklahomans have access to at least one hospital in their county, almost 15 percent of the state’s population does not have health insurance. Here’s how every state ranks in health care.
So, which are the states with the lowest rates of heart disease? Arizona ranks tenth best, with 142 deaths from heart disease out of every 100,000 people in 2017, according to the CDC reports. The Copper State not only has one of the highest well-being scores in the country, but its residents also soak in large doses of heart-healthy vitamin D. Yuma, a city in the southwest part of Arizona, has a 90 percent chance of sun every day—making it the sunniest place in the entire world.
Connecticut ranks ninth best; according to the CDC, 7,138 Connecticut residents died from deadly heart attacks in 2017. That equals a rate of just 142 deaths per 100,000 residents. That may be due in part to the state’s low rate of obesity; the state’s wealth may also help contribute to higher rates of healthcare and heart-healthy habits like exercising and cooking. If you also do a lot of your own cooking, here are the 50 best foods for your heart.
The state of Washington reported 139 deadly heart attacks for every 100,000 people in 2017, making it eighth best in the country. To stave off obesity and help the environment, many locals have started trading their cars for bikes. Washington recently garnered the title of most bike-friendly state in the nation, mainly thanks to efforts like Seattle’s bike-share program and new traffic laws that protect cyclists. These are the U.S. bike trails with the most scenic views.
Least: North Dakota
North Dakota comes in seventh best in the nation, with 138 heart attack deaths per 100,000 people in 2017. North Dakotans also have one of the lowest rates of diabetes in the country, which might help them keep cardiovascular problems at bay. Just 9 percent of the state’s residents have been diagnosed with diabetes, data shows. Meet the doctor who is reversing diabetes, one patient at a time.
This state has been steadily lowering its rate of deadly heart attacks from 166 per 100,000 in 2005 to 135 in 2017—bringing it in at sixth best in the nation, the CDC report found. One possible cause? Alaska boasts the highest percentage of land set aside as national parks, so locals don’t have to travel far to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors. In fact, the state provides nearly 3,000 acres of parkland for each individual Alaskan. This beautiful Alaskan town is 250 miles away from the nearest stoplight.
A whopping 97 percent of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, according to a 2017 report by the United Health Foundation. Massachusetts also leads the nation in the number of mental health providers per capita. That may explain why the state’s rate of deadly heart attacks is one of the lowest in the nation: in 2017, the Bay State had the fifth lowest rate—just under 135 heart disease-related deaths per 100,000 people.
In Portland, nearly one-quarter of the population consumes three or more vegetables each day—second only to residents of San Francisco. Given that a healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease, perhaps it’s no wonder Oregonians have the fourth lowest rate of deadly heart attacks in the country—134 per 100,000. Don’t miss these 15 doctor-approved tips to prevent heart disease.
The Aloha State logged just 2,575 deaths from heart disease in 2017, the CDC reports, giving the islands the third-best rank, at 130 per 100,000. A little positive thinking might go a long way for Hawaiians’ heart health. Year after year, Gallup polls have crowned Hawaii the happiest state in America. Hawaiians also lead the nation when it comes to managing their economic lives, maintaining good health, and liking where they live, polls find. Believe it or not, the Hawaiian language itself may contribute to their state of zen.
With a fatality rate of about 123 deadly heart attacks per 100,000 residents, Colorado is the second-most heart healthy state in the nation. Denver, its capital city, has been ranked as one of America’s fittest cities, thanks to its low obesity rates and active residents. What’s more, the capital offers nearly 20,000 acres of green spaces and parks for its residents to explore. Could that be the secret? Find out the secrets of countries with the lowest heart attack rates.
The least: Minnesota
Minnesota takes first place as the U.S. state with the least number of deadly heart attacks. According to the CDC, just 119 people died of heart disease per 100,000 residents in 2017—far below the national rate of 165.5. And it’s another state that ranks tops for lots of green space, as just one example of its heart-healthy perks; St. Paul has one of the highest numbers of parks per 10,000 people, according to the ASCM American Fitness Index. St. Paul also takes its place among the 15 fittest cities in America.