Cardiovascular disease, primarily coronary heart disease and stroke, kills nearly as many Americans as all other diseases combined and is among the leading causes of disability in the United States. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for all racial and ethnic groups. The impact of premature morbidity from cardiovascular disease on the ability of affected individuals to function independently or to participate fully in everyday life is devastating in terms of personal loss, pain, suffering, and effects on families and loved ones. The annual national economic impact of cardiovascular disease is estimated at $259 billion as measured in health care expenditures, medications, and lost productivity due to disability and death.
In Florida, with the exception of tobacco use, risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, obesity and physical activity are higher among racial and ethnic minorities. For example, in 2002, 53.4% of Hispanic and Black Adults had hypertension compared with 27.7% of all adults. In 2002, Blacks and Hispanics lead the state in overweight and obesity prevalence. Hispanics had the the highest prevalence of being overweight, 37.3%. While Black ranked #1 in obesity prevalence, 34.8% Hispanic adults are more likely to have diabetes and to be over-weight and physically inactive than non-Hispanic whites. They are also more likely to have high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol (Florida Department of Health, 2001).