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Heart Attack


Heart attacks are the #1 killer of Americans. Among Americans age 20 and older, new and recurrent heart attack prevalence for both men and women represented 3.7% of the US population or 7,900,000 (4.9 million men and 3.0 million women). A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is severely reduced or completely blocked.   During a heart attack, heart muscle cells do not receive enough oxygen and begin to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart.

Your genetics, lifestyle, and environment can all contribute to an increased risk for heart attack. In addition to lifestyle risk factors such as high LDL cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, lack of physical activity and diabetes,  investigators both here and abroad have been linking air pollutants and increased risk of heart attack.  A number of studies have reported associations between air pollution (ozone, PM 10, CO, PM 2.5, SO 2 ) and hospitalizations for heart attacks and other forms of heart disease, particularly in sensitive subpopulations like the elderly. Overall air quality has improved in the last 20 years but urban areas are still a concern. 

There currently is no single heart attack surveillance system in place in the US. Death records are the sole national descriptor for heart attacks and are limited by their nature to capturing only fatal outcomes. Estimates of incidence and prevalence of heart attacks have been largely based on survey samples.

Tracking heart attack hospitalizations will let Oregon EPHT examine trends, geographic or demographic differences, and target interventions to those most in need of care. Click on the indicators link to learn more about what information the Oregon EPHT program collects about heart attacks.