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New data show disconnect in understanding heart disease risks

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As American Heart Month gets underway this Thursday, experts are trying to create more awareness.

But they're grappling with troubling data about the public's recognition of heart disease as a threat.

An annual report from the American Heart Association shows that heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. - just as it has for the past century.

But report authors say more than half of respondents - in a survey commissioned by the organization - did not identify that as the case.

The Heart Association's Chrissy Meyer said what's more concerning is that roughly the same percentage of people are likely dealing with a heart issue of some kind.

"Nearly half of all people in the U.S. have some type of cardiovascular disease," said Meyer.

The report also notes that 38% of adults with high blood pressure are unaware they have it, creating more risk concerns.

Meyer said the good news is that the dramatic increase in cardiovascular deaths seen at the onset of the pandemic appears to have slowed.

However, researchers still have a lot to learn about COVID-19's long-term health effects, as well as the impacts of unhealthy habits people picked up during that time.

The report says overall, the number of cardiovascular-related deaths in the U.S. increased by nearly 3,000 last year to a total of more than 931,000.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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