Cities With the Highest Risk of Heart Attack

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Sarasota, Florida
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9. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 7.0%
> Obesity rate: 22.3%
> Smoking rate: 14.9%
> Median household income: $53,698

In the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metro area, 21.3% of adults do not exercise regularly, and 22.3% are obese — each lower shares than most metropolitan areas, and particularly among metro areas with high heart attack rates. Additionally, 14.9% of North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton adults smoke, less than the 17.0% national smoking rate. Despite the relatively healthy behavior of its population, 7.0% of the city’s adults have had a heart attack, one of the largest shares in the country.

The high incidence of heart attack in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton may be due to risk factors beyond the residents’ control. Americans 65 and over, who are at more than twice the risk of heart attack than the rest of the country, comprise 30.5% of the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton population, the sixth largest share nationwide.

Fort Smith, Arkansas
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8. Fort Smith, AR-OK
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 7.1%
> Obesity rate: 38.1%
> Smoking rate: 22.7%
> Median household income: $41,040

Residents of poor, rural areas often lack the access to health care that can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and related conditions. In the Fort Smith metro area, 20.5% of residents live in poverty, and just 57.7% have adequate access to opportunities for physical activity — each far worse than the national poverty and access rates.

Close to one in three Fort Worth adults do not exercise regularly, one of the largest shares among major metropolitan areas. Lack of physical activity can significantly increase the risk of obesity and high blood pressure, both of which affect approximately two in five Fort Worth adults. An estimated 7.1% of adults in the metro area have had a heart attack, one of the largest shares nationwide.

Chico, California
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7. Chico, CA
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 7.1%
> Obesity rate: 36.7%
> Smoking rate: 15.0%
> Median household income: $45,644

While by many measures of cardiovascular health the population of Chico is at a relatively low risk of heart disease, 7.1% of adults in the metro have suffered a heart attack — one of the largest shares nationwide. Just 27.2% of Chico adults have high blood pressure, 19.5% have high cholesterol, and 9.9% have diabetes, far lower shares than in a majority of U.S. metro areas.

One partial explanation for the high incidence of heart attack in Chico may be the high prevalence of obesity in the metro area. An estimated 36.7% of Chico adults are obese, nearly the largest share of any city surveyed by Gallup. According to the World Heart Federation, one in five cases of coronary artery disease — the most common heart disease — is attributable to being overweight.