Special Report

Cities With the Lowest Risk of Heart Attack

Salt Lake City, Utah
Source: Thinkstock

12. Salt Lake City, UT
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 2.2%
> Obesity rate: 24.9%
> Smoking rate: 10.1%
> Median household income: $65,792

Salt Lake City residents, who report one of the lowest incidence of heart attack among U.S. metro areas, do not engage in many of the healthy behaviors known to increase the risk of heart attack. Just 10% of area adults report a smoking habit, for example, among the lowest rates of any U.S. metro area. While excessive drinking is relatively common even in some of the nation’s healthier communities, such behavior can certainly still increase the risk of heart problems. In Salt Lake City, just 14.1% of adults report excessive drinking, one of the lowest shares in the country.

Economic prosperity can also go a long way toward better health outcomes. Like many other cities with low incidence of heart attack, the median household income in Salt Lake City of $65,792 a year is well above the national median income of $55,772 a year. The city’s poverty rate of just 10.2% is also one of the lowest in the country.

Little Lighthouse, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Source: Thinkstock

11. Kalamazoo-Portage, MI
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 2.2%
> Obesity rate: 28.9%
> Smoking rate: 16.5%
> Median household income: $51,167

Kalamazoo has one of the lowest heart attack rates in the country, although the area lacks some of the characteristics typical of other metro areas on this list. For example, the region has a poverty rate higher than the U.S. figure, and the typical household earns below the U.S. median household income.

For several reasons, areas with a high share of college-educated residents also tend to have lower rates of heart disease. A college degree can lead to higher-paying jobs, which in turn allow residents to be able to afford better medical care healthier lifestyle choices. College-educated residents may also be more likely to make informed health decisions. Kalamazoo has one of the higher shares among metropolitan areas of both high school- and college-educated adults.

The Sunset, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Source: Thinkstock

10. Green Bay, WI
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 2.2%
> Obesity rate: 31.0%
> Smoking rate: 16.0%
> Median household income: $54,847

Several major metropolitan areas in Wisconsin have a relatively low incidence of heart attack, but none as low as Green Bay, where just 2.2% of adults reported experiencing such an event. Green Bay area residents are much less likely to have some risk factors typically associated with heart disease, but much more likely to have others. Compared to other major metropolitan areas, Green Bay adults have among the highest shares of high cholesterol and obesity, but among the lowest shares of high blood pressure and diabetes.

Such a low rate of heart attack points to generally good heart among Green Bay’s population. Possibly for this reason, residents are more likely than those in most metropolitan areas to live a full life. Just 290 residents out of every 100,000 people die each year before reaching the age of 75 due to preventable causes, much lower than the national rate of 474 premature deaths per 100,000 people.