Of all the diseases labeled “silent killers,” heart disease is the one that gets that epithet most often. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, since 1900, there has been only one year in which heart disease wasn’t the deadliest disease in the country: 1918, the year of the great influenza pandemic, when 450,000 Americans died.
That trend has not gone away. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1-in-6 adults in the United States, or 16.3% of the adult population, has high cholesterol, defined as 240 mg of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. The condition disproportionately affects women, with 16.9% of women in the United States having high cholesterol, compared with 15.6% of men, while middle-aged and older adults also are disproportionately likely to have it.
The numbers are even higher for hypertension. According to the CDC, high blood pressure affects 33% of adults ages 20 years and older, causing more than 20,000 deaths per year. The condition is especially prevalent in nursing homes, with 53% of residents having it — for a total of 790,300 — according to a CDC study from 2004.
To view the charts listing the Top 20 hypertension and cholesterol-lowering drugs, click here.