Misconceptions About Heart Disease Widespread in the United States

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Many people in the United States don’t know that heart disease is the leading cause of death.
Many people in the United States don’t know that heart disease is the leading cause of death.

Many people in the United States don't know that heart disease is the leading cause of death, according to survey results published by HeartFlow.

The survey included 1513 participants, and responses were collected between November 23, 2018, and December 1, 2018. The researchers weighted the results to represent the population of the United States as a whole.

After analyzing the survey responses, the researchers found that only 29% of participants knew that heart disease was the leading cause of death in the United States. Meanwhile, 71% listed cancer, drug use, gun violence, vehicular accidents, or other factors as the leading cause of death.

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For women in particular, 50% of participants believed that breast cancer was the leading cause of death, and only 35% knew that heart disease was the leading cause of death for women.

Although many participants did not know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, 77% of participants reported being worried about their heart health. However, 67% of participants have never sought out treatment for their heart health. This is despite that 42% of participants reported knowing that they have a family history of heart disease.

With so many participants reporting that they had not sought medical care, the survey asked participants why they avoided physicians. The results indicated that 37% of participants avoided medical care for fear of diagnosis, and 30% reported a fear of misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis. Even further, 79% of participants indicated that they would rather experience a fender bender or root canal than have invasive testing that was ultimately unnecessary.

Despite apprehension about medical care, many participants were open to the role of artificial intelligence in medical care. The results indicated that 78% of participants thought that new technology paired with physician analysis would provide the most accurate diagnosis. In terms of trust, 55% of participants somewhat trust artificial intelligence in the medical field and 23% trust it strongly.

The results of the survey indicated that there are still major gaps in knowledge and fears that can hinder people's understanding of heart health. The researchers note that more awareness efforts and resources are needed to educate patients.

Reference

HeartFlow survey: Fewer than 1/3 of Americans know biggest health threat [news release]. Redwood City, CA: HeartFlow. https://hfdc-corpweb.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets/pages/newsroom/MOH_Press_Release_WebFINAL_56795843v1_Feb2019.pdf. Published February 6, 2019. Accessed February 6, 2019.

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