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HDSP : Heart Disease and Stroke

What is Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease makes up the largest proportion of total heart disease related hospital discharges1. Coronary heart disease includes heart attack, angina and other types of ischemic heart disease. It develops when plaque (made of cholesterol deposits) builds up in the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that feed the heart muscle. In time, these cholesterol deposits lead to a narrowing of the coronary arteries which can in turn cause chest pain (also called angina). Sometimes the coronary arteries become completely obstructed and a heart attack (also called myocardial infarction) occurs. Coronary heart disease can cause heart failure and ultimately shorten the lifespan of an individual2.



  What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when the brain is damaged as a result of a clot that blocks a blood vessel that feeds the brain (ischemic stroke). This can also occur when a feeding blood vessel ruptures causing bleeding in or around the brain (hemorrhagic stroke) Acute stroke accounts for more than half of the cerebrovascular disease related hospital discharges1.

  Burden of Heart Disease and Stroke in Maryland

The public health impact of heart disease and stroke is significant, both in terms of disease burden and financial burden. Heart disease and stroke are the number one and number three causes of death in Maryland respectively3. Coronary heart disease and stroke have high prevalence, and result in high rates of hospitalization and mortality. The overall prevalence of coronary heart disease in Maryland is 5.4 % in 2010, and stroke is 2.5 %4.

In Maryland, all types of heart disease accounted for $1 billion of hospital expenses in 20091 and $403 million of the charges were due to coronary heart disease. Stroke accounted for $245 million of hospital expenses in 20091 and $175 million were due to acute stroke.

The prevalence of the major risk factors related to coronary heart disease and stroke has worsened in Maryland in recent years (see table below). It was estimated that Maryland residents reporting these risk factors were also more likely to report having coronary heart disease and stroke.

Prevalence (%)
Risk Factors
High blood pressure
High cholesterol









1. Maryland Assessment Tool for Community Health, Family Health Administration,

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

3. Maryland Vital Statistics Administration

4. Maryland BRFSS,


The information presented here was adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The images are taken from the CDC/Public Health image library​​​​.