Special Report

Cities With the Lowest Risk of Heart Attack

flower bed in the street, San Jose, California
Source: Thinkstock

6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 1.9%
> Obesity rate: 19.9%
> Smoking rate: 9.1%
> Median household income: $101,980

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara is one of only a handful of metro areas with less than 2% of adults reporting having had a heart attack. Heart disease places a heavy toll on individuals. For people with recent heart problems, adopting healthy behaviors associated with cardiovascular health is especially challenging. On the whole, San Jose area residents seem to have healthy habits. Fewer than one in 10 adults are smokers, fewer than one in five individuals are obese, and approximately 15% report no physical exercise — each among the lowest such proportions of U.S. metro areas.

Financial stability can make it considerably easier to stay healthy and meet health goals. Wealthier individuals who do not have healthy habits are still more likely than poorer individuals to survive a heart attack. The typical San Jose area household earns more than $100,000 a year, by far the highest median income of U.S. metros.

Austin Texas
Source: Thinkstock

5. Austin-Round Rock, TX
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 1.8%
> Obesity rate: 24.6%
> Smoking rate: 12.3%
> Median household income: $67,195

In Austin, just 1.8% of adults have experienced a heart attack in their lifetimes. Obesity and associated medical conditions such as diabetes are among the leading causes of heart disease. In Austin, less than 25% of adults are obese, while in several other Texas metropolitan areas between 30% and 40% of adults are obese. Similarly, only 9.3% of area residents are diabetic, while in several state metro areas more than 15% of adults are diabetic.

For a number of reasons, higher educational attainment is tied to lower incidence of heart disease. This may be in part because people with a college degree are more likely to make informed healthy choices. A college degree also tends to lead to higher-paying jobs, which in turn allow residents to be able to afford healthier lifestyle choices and better medical care. In Austin, 42.6% of adults have a college degree, among the highest share of any major metropolitan area.

Provo Temple and Fountain, Utah
Source: Thinkstock

4. Provo-Orem, UT
> Pct. who have had a heart attack: 1.6%
> Obesity rate: 22.5%
> Smoking rate: 7.0%
> Median household income: $65,092

While no one is immune to the possibility of heart disease, certain behavior has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Provo-Orem’s population in many ways reflects the ideals of healthy behavior, which likely explains its extremely low rate of heart disease. The metro area has among the lowest shares of adults reporting sedentary behavior, as well as the lowest rates of both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption of any metropolitan area in the country.

Likely at least in part because of the residents’ healthy behavior, Provo also has among the lowest rates of other health conditions associated with heart disease. Among the 190 metropolitan areas surveyed by Gallup, Provo had among the three lowest rates of high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as the lowest share of adults with high cholesterol.