CDC maps heart disease and stroke in America

Cardiovascular diseases including heart attack and stroke are the leading cause of death in America. The illnesses cut across race, ethnicity and gender. These diseases affect more than 80 million Americans and last year cost an estimated $475.3 billion in direct health spending and lost productivity, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now you can use an interactive map on the CDC’s website to find county by county death rates – broken down by race and sex – as well as hospitalization rates. The maps also show the distribution of health resources such as hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors who specialize in heart disease and stroke.

Last month The Inquirer and The Daily News published a special report – Matters of the Heart - on heart health that included an interactive database on hospital care in the Philadelphia region and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

The database can help you navigate your heart care options. It enables you to compare hospitals based on the number of heart surgeries performed — a measure that can indicate quality because the more practiced hospital tends to perform better. You can view death rates for heart attack patients and learn whether other patients would recommend the hospital.