Each year, the American Heart Association (AHA), in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies, brings together the most up-to-date statistics related to heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and presents them in its Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update. The Statistical Update represents a critical resource for the lay public, policy makers, media professionals, clinicians, healthcare administrators, researchers, and others seeking the best available data on these conditions. Together, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke produce immense health and economic burdens in the United States and globally. The Statistical Update brings together in a single document up-to-date information on the core health behaviors (including diet, physical activity [PA], smoking, and energy balance) and health factors (including blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose) that define cardiovascular health; a range of major clinical disease conditions (including stroke, congenital heart disease, rhythm disorders, subclinical atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, heart failure, valvular disease, and peripheral arterial disease); and the associated outcomes (including quality of care, procedures, and economic costs). Since 2006, the annual versions of the Statistical Update have been cited >28 000 times in the literature. In 2014 alone, the various Statistical Updates were cited >5000 times.
Each annual version of the Statistical Update undergoes major revisions to include the newest nationally representative data, add additional relevant published scientific findings, remove older information, add new sections or chapters, and increase the number of ways to access and use the assembled information. This year-long process, which begins as soon as the previous Statistical Update is published, is performed by the AHA Statistics Committee faculty volunteers and staff. For example, this year’s edition includes new data on the monitoring and benefits of cardiovascular health in the population, new metrics to assess and monitor healthy diets, additional information in many chapters on the global CVD and stroke burden, new information on stroke in young adults, a new focus on underserved and minority populations, and further evidence-based approaches to changing behaviors, implementation strategies, and implications of the AHA’s 2020 Impact Goals. Below are a few highlights from this year’s Update.