Special Report

Cities With the Highest Risk of Heart Attack

Duluth, Minnesota
Source: Thinkstock

3. Duluth, MN-WI
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 7.7%
> Obesity rate: 29.2%
> Smoking rate: 19.2%
> Median household income: $50,566

While by many measures of cardiovascular health the population of the Duluth metro area is at a relatively low risk of heart disease, 7.7% of residents have suffered a heart attack — one of the largest shares nationwide. Just 28.4% of Duluth adults have high blood pressure, 24.1% have high cholesterol, and 9.6% have diabetes — smaller shares than most of surveyed metro areas.

One part of the explanation for the high incidence of heart attack in Duluth may be the high prevalence of depression among city residents. An estimated 23.5% of Duluth adults are depressed, the fifth largest share among cities surveyed by Gallup. Depression can often lead to many health behaviors that increase the risk of heart attack. Studies have also shown people to be more likely to develop depression after experiencing a heart attack or undergoing cardiovascular surgery.

Daytona Beach, Florida
Source: Thinkstock

2. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 7.9%
> Obesity rate: 29.3%
> Smoking rate: 18.4%
> Median household income: $43,284

Relatively large shares of Deltona area residents engage in behaviors known to increase the risk of heart attack. The adult smoking rate of 18.4%, for example, is among the higher rates compared with other U.S. metros. Like a number of other cities with a high incidence of heart attack, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach residents have relatively low incomes, which for some residents likely hinders efforts to stay healthy.

Because the Americans 65 and older are twice as likely to have had a heart attack, a high concentration of the age group in a city can explain a high incidence of heart attack. This appears to be the case in the Deltona area, where nearly 25% of residents are 65 and older, well above the national proportion of 14.9%.

Charleston, West Virginia
Source: Thinkstock

1. Charleston, WV
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 8.8%
> Obesity rate: 40.6%
> Smoking rate: 23.6%
> Median household income: $42,526

No city has a higher lifetime incidence of heart attack than Charleston, where 8.8% of adults have survived a heart attack. Close to one in four area adults are smokers, and more than two in five are obese — each among the highest proportions of any U.S. metro area. Since smoking and obesity increase the risk of heart disease substantially, these relatively common lifestyles in Charleston likely helps explain the high incidence of heart attack among the area’s population.

Like in many other cities where heart attacks are more common, Charleston residents are not especially wealthy. The typical household earns $42,526 annually, well below the national median income of $55,775 annually.