Heart Attack Rankings: The Best and Worst Cities in America


A move to Boulder, Colorado could be a solution for keeping heart healthy – the city was just named the top city in the U.S. for the lowest number of adults who have experienced heart attacks.

A report published by Gallup-Healthways ranked cities in the U.S. for incidence of heart attack. Ann Arbor, Michigan was the second top city for the lowest incidence of heart attack in adults. Charleston, West Virginia and Daytona Beach, Florida, had the highest incidence of adults who experienced a heart attack.

Both Ann Arbor and Colorado have consistently shown high well-being based on Gallup-Healthways’ Well-Being Index since 2008. The ranking reported Boulder and Ann Arbor with less than two percent of adults with an incident of heart attack respectively. They’ve also shown low incidence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Tallahassee, Florida; Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas rounded out the top five cities all with less than two percent of adults with an incident of heart attack. The worst cities had more than seven and eight percent of adults with an incident of heart attack.

Related: Top 5 U.S. Cities for Active, Healthy Lifestyles

Individuals who had never been diagnosed with heart problems reported active and productive days, self-rated high job performance and fewer hospital admissions within the past year.

“We are seeing a huge shift in mainstream medicine with more and more clinicians expressing interest in how to help patients use the lifestyle behaviors to prevent and treat many chronic conditions,” said Cate Collings, a member of the board of directors for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Those who had never had heart problems also reported a higher percentage of physical well-being, financial well-being and an exercise routine. Individuals who had heart problems reported lower percentages related to high job performance, higher percentages of poor physical health and more emergency hospital visits within the last year.

“These data clearly show that having heart disease significantly impacts the quality of life, not just the length of it. But it doesn’t have to be that way – at least 95 percent of heart disease is preventable,” said Dean Ornish, the founder and chief medical officer of Ornish Lifestyle Medicine at Healthways.

Gallup-Healthways reported that though many Americans know that unhealthy eating and inactivity can contribute to heart disease, those diagnosed with heart problems still have difficulty adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. Medicare and commercial health plans are now covering lifestyle medicine programs to help patients who need additional social support, structure and resources to get back on their feet.

“When individuals make comprehensive lifestyle changes – eat well, stress less, move more, love more – they feel so much better so quickly, they reframe their way of thinking from a fear of dying to the joy of living,” Ornish said.

Ornish Lifestyle Medicine is the leading intensive cardiac rehab program, and has four elements to its rehab process. Nutrition, stress management, exercise and love and support are focused on as the framework for the program.

“Research consistently shows that diet and lifestyle changes are often the most clinically effective, least invasive option to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease,” said Bryce Williams, vice president of Wellbeing at Blue Shield of California.