Special Report

The States With the Least Heart Disease

Hristina Byrnes, Grant Suneson

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10. Montana
> Adults with cardiovascular disease: 6.2%
> Adults who’ve had heart attack: 3.1% (9th lowest)
> Population: 1,050,493

Like most of the states where the adult population reports a relatively low rate of cardiovascular disease, Montana has a very low obesity rate, the fifth lowest of all states. Just 25.3% of adults in the state are obese, well below the U.S. adult obesity rate of 31.6%. Montana is one of just six states in which at least 90% of adults regularly eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. This healthy diet may be at least in part the reason that just 28.3% of Montana adults have high total cholesterol, the second lowest share of any state.

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9. New Jersey
> Adults with cardiovascular disease: 6.1%
> Adults who’ve had heart attack: 3.2% (12th lowest)
> Population: 9,005,644

Major risk factors of heart disease, such as smoking and excessive drinking, are far less common among the New Jersey adult population than they are on average nationwide. The adult obesity rate of 25.9% is below the national rate of 28.0%. The state also has some of the country’s highest concentrations of primary care physicians and dentists, who are sometimes the first to diagnose problems such as bleeding gums that can be indicative of potential development of heart disease.

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8. Alaska
> Adults with cardiovascular disease: 6.0%
> Adults who’ve had heart attack: 2.9% (3rd lowest)
> Population: 739,795

In Alaska, 97% of adults have been screened for high cholesterol in the past five years, the fifth highest rate among all states. Early screenings are crucial to catching heart issues before they become a serious health risk. This may be one reason why just 2.9% of Alaskan adults have reported they had a heart attack in the past, the third lowest share of any state and well below the 4.2% U.S. rate.

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7. California
> Adults with cardiovascular disease: 6.0%
> Adults who’ve had heart attack: 2.8% (2nd lowest)
> Population: 39,536,653

California has the fifth lowest share of adults with high blood pressure and the fourth highest share of adult residents with healthy weight. The shares of adults with high cholesterol and those who smoke are also among the lowest in the country. Healthy habits such as eating fruits and vegetables and exercising also are common. The Golden State’s 22.7% adult obesity rate is the third lowest of any state and lower than the national obesity rate of 28.0%.

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6. Connecticut
> Adults with cardiovascular disease: 6.0%
> Adults who’ve had heart attack: 3.2% (12th lowest)
> Population: 3,588,184

With a median annual household income of more than $74,000, Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states. With such high incomes, a greater share of residents are able to afford health care such as regular doctor visits, screening, prevention, and medication. Connecticut adults tend to lead some of the healthiest lifestyles of adults of any state. A very low share drinks excessively or smokes cigarettes, and an above average share reports getting physical activity on a regular basis.

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