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Heart Disease

Tracking Heart Disease

Currently, the United States does not have a single surveillance system for either heart attacks or general ischemic heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease). Death is the most common descriptor for national data for heart attacks. Estimates of incidence and prevalence of heart attacks and ischemic heart disease are largely based on survey samples (e.g., National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and National Ambulatory Care Survey) or large cohort studies such as the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

Tracking heart disease will help with:

  • examination of time trends;
  • identification of any seasonal patterns;
  • assessment of geographic differences;
  • evaluation of differences in heart disease by age, gender, and race/ethnicity; and
  • determination of populations in need of targeted interventions.

While the Tracking Network uses hospital admission dates, other public health programs use the hospital discharge dates to count the cases of heart attacks. This counting variance may cause a difference in heart attack rates between the Tracking Network and other public health websites.

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