These 50 American Cities Have the Highest Rates of Coronary Heart Disease

"Location, location, location" applies to more than just real estate.

These 50 American Cities Have the Highest Rates of Coronary Heart Disease
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Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common heart health problem Americans face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease kills more than 370,000 people every year.

CHD specifically refers to artery blockage as a result of cholesterol buildup, which wreaks havoc on the heart's ability to function. While diet and intrinsic factors—like age, genetics, and family history—play significant roles in your likelihood to develop CHD, there's another determinant that might not have crossed your mind: geography. (Yes, "location, location, location" can apply to more than just savvy real estate deals.)

When it comes to CHD, where you live might matter just as much as what you eat—and we have the data to prove it. Using figures from the CDC's 500 Cities Project database, we've rounded up the 50 American cities with the highest rates of coronary heart disease.

50
Memphis, Tennessee

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.1 percent
Population: 652,236

Molasses-based BBQ is baked into this city's heritage. The upside: It's delicious. The downside: It isn't exactly healthy.

49
Waukegan, Illinois

administration building located in waukegan illinois Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.1 percent
Population: 87,729

Wedged between Chicago and Wisconsin, Waukegan is located smack in the center of a region famous for deep dish pizza, hot dogs, and sausage. Tasty, yes, but also not so healthy.

48
Hialeah, Florida

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.1 percent
Population: 239,673

Florida's fifth biggest city is so anonymous, it was once named by Forbes as one of America's most boring cities. That said, it stands out for its rate of coronary heart disease, which of course isn't a good thing.

47
Cicero, Illinois

high school in cicero illinois, heart attack cities Wikimedia Commons/Teemu08

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.2 percent
Population: 82,552

Just west of downtown Chicago, all of the culinary issues that plague its neighbor, Waukegan, exist here, too.

46
Lansing, Michigan

lansing michigan state capitol buildings

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.2 percent
Population: 116,986

According to Yelp, there are nearly 100 fast food restaurants in this mid-sized Midwestern city.

45
Albany, Georgia

albany georgia fall scene, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.2 percent
Population: 73,179

With nearly one-third of the population below the poverty line, the vivid reality for most residents of Albany, Georgia, is a severe lack of healthy food options.

44
Mobile, Alabama

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.2 percent
Population: 190,265

This one's not a surprise since, according to Best Life data, Mobile is the fattest city in America.

43
Lake Charles, Louisiana

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.2 percent
Population: 77,117

It's particularly alarming that Lake Charles actually has one of the lower obesity rates in Louisiana, according to the Department of Health.

42
Shreveport, Louisiana

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.3 percent
Population: 192,036

In 2019, Shreveport came in second on WalletHub's fattest cities in America list, thanks to its residents' poor dietary and exercise habits, health problems, and obesity rate.

41
South Bend, Indiana

south bend indiana aerial scene, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.3 percent
Population: 102,245

Like many mid-sized Midwestern cities, South Bend experienced a steep decline in prosperity following the 1960s. These days, fast food chains are prominent.

40
Rochester, New York

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.3 percent
Population: 208,046

Considering Rochester's signature dish is the "Garbage Plate" (a decadent combo of hamburger patties, hash browns, macaroni, melted cheese, ground beef, Italian bread, and hot sauce, all thrown together), this one's no surprise.

39
Syracuse, New York

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.3 percent
Population: 143,396

When you get 124 inches of snow each winter, it can be hard to reap the benefits of the great outdoors. It also may explain the impulse to hibernate and snack on comfort food.

38
Hartford, Connecticut

hartford connecticut state capitol buildings

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.3 percent
Population: 123,400

It's a bit ironic that the self-proclaimed Insurance Capital of the World is a leader in a significant health issue like CHD.

37
Pharr, Texas

overpass in pharr texas, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.3 percent
Population: 79,487

Located smack in the middle of hurricane country, the good folks of Pharr, Texas, may have bigger things to fear than heart disease.

36
San Bernardino, California

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 216,995

Situated on the iconic Route 66, San Bernardino was once a pit stop for drive-ins and cheap eats of all kinds. But the most famous, by far, is the original McDonald's restaurant, before Ray Kroc turned it into a franchise.

35
Hammond, Indiana

coal power plant in hammond indiana, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 76,618

Like Cicero, Hammond, Indiana, is another working-class town in Chicago's orbit. With a per capita income of only $16,254 and 14.3 percent of residents below the poverty line, a picture emerges of a locale under stress—and underserved by quality food options.

34
Evansville, Indiana

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 118,930

At the start of every October, the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival in Evansville attracts nearly 200,000 annual visitors, making it one of the largest street festivals in the country. Among the main attractions? Endless deep-fried Twinkies.

33
Akron, Ohio

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 197,846

Akron was once home to a visionary named Charles E. Menches, who blessed the world with such wonderful creations as the ice cream cone and caramel corn. On the flip side, it's also the location of the headquarters for Quaker Oats, a wholesome, heart-healthy food. (Seemingly, the ice cream and caramel corn has won out.)

32
Erie, Pennsylvania

erie pennsylvania overview, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 97,369

Situated next to its eponymous Great Lake, Erie is known for an abundance of amusement parks, which feature plenty of artery-clogging fried dough.

31
Buffalo, New York

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 258,612

As legend has it, Buffalo is where the buffalo wing was invented, at local mainstay watering hole Anchor Bar.

30
Allentown, Pennsylvania

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 121,283

The anchor of Lehigh Valley's history dates back to before the Revolutionary War. For centuries, the food scene has revolved around the hale and hearty cuisine of the Pennsylvania Dutch—heavy on foods like egg noodles, bacon gravy, apple dumplings, and, of course, scrapple, a mix of pork scraps and cornmeal that remains a staple.

29
Fall River, Massachusetts

fall river massachusetts battle ship, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 89,42o

A jewel of New England's once-thriving textile and seafaring south coast, Fall River retains its Portuguese heritage with an abundance of old-world, calorie-dense foods (like chourico and heavy breads).

28
New Bedford, Massachusetts

new bedford massachusetts, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.4 percent
Population: 95,120

Just east of Fall River on the Massachusetts Gold Coast, "The Whaling City" checks in as third highest in the state when it comes to coronary heart disease.

27
Birmingham, Alabama

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.5 percent
Population: 210,710

This hard-working town prides itself on some of the best food in the South, including favorites like country fried steak, skillet cornbread, barbecue pulled pork, and fried catfish.

26
Muncie, Indiana

muncie indiana bridge, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.5 percent
Population: 68,625

Muncie is the prototypical mid-sized, all-American town, a bellwether for all manner of cultural trends. Unfortunately, its heart health index is not one to emulate.

25
Dearborn, Michigan

dearborn massachusetts Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.5 percent
Population: 94,491

This diverse working class Detroit suburb follows a similar pattern for heart disease as the Metro area at large does. (As you'll soon see, there are four Michigan towns on this list.)

24
Charleston, West Virginia

charleston west virginia state capitol buildings

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.5 percent
Population: 47,929

The capital of West Virginia is the originator of the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

23
Gulfport, Mississippi

gulfport mississippi tree and highway, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.5 percent
Population: 71,822

As a sub-tropical climate on the southern tip of Mississippi, the resulting heat and humidity may contribute to this sleepy town's inactive lifestyle and active CHD rate.

22
Brownsville, Texas

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.5 percent
Population: 183,299

Brownsville was the site of several important battles of the Mexican-American war. It boasts a rich history, complete with rich Tex-Mex cuisine.

21
Laredo, Texas

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.5 percent
Population: 260,654

"The Republic of the Rio Grande" just barely beats out Brownsville to have the worst rate of CHD in Texas.

20
Paterson, New Jersey

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.6 percent
Population: 148,678

Passaic County, which counts Patterson among its cities, has a significantly high rate of heart failure among Medicare beneficiaries at a rate of almost 17 percent, according to the North Jersey Health Collaborative.

19
Springdale, Arkansas

sign for springdale arkansas, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.7 percent
Population: 79,599

Nestled in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, Springdale is home to the headquarters of Tyson Foods, the world's biggest meat producer.

18
Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, KY skyline

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.7 percent
Population: 602,011

This historic city is known for baseball bats, the Kentucky Derby, and world-class bourbon—a well-known contributor to heart issues.

17
Macon, Georgia

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.7 percent
Population: 152,663

Macon has a high concentration of unhealthy dining options. According to Yelp, there are more than 120 fast food locations—including local fried chicken favorite Bojangles—in the area.

16
Newark, New Jersey

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.7 percent
Population: 285,154

Newark, the most populous city in the Garden State, is where, according to legend, the Italian hot dog—a deep fried frankfurter paired with onions and peppers and tossed on a butter-lathered bun—was invented, at Jimmy Buff's.

15
Passaic, New Jersey

passaic new jersey water fall, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.7 percent
Population: 71,247

Considering what we mentioned about Patterson, this one is no surprise either. In Passaic County, 33.3 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have been treated for diabetes. On top of that, its residents with diabetes also have a higher than average risk of dying from the disease, the North Jersey Health Collaborative reports.

14
Springfield, Massachusetts

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.7 percent
Population: 154,758

Though its nicknamed "The City of Firsts"—the dictionary, the gas-powered automobile, and basketball were all invented in Springfield—this western Massachusetts city doesn't quite come out on top in terms of CHD rates.

13
Lawrence, Massachusetts

lawrence massachusetts textile clock tower, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.7 percent
Population: 80,162

Situated in northeast Massachusetts, Lawrence was formerly an important textile mill town, a pillar of the industrial revolution. Today, it bears the distinction of being New England's worst population center for CHD.

12
Fort Smith, Arkansas

fort smith arkansas, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.8 percent
Population: 88,037

Located a stone's throw from the Oklahoma border, Fort Smith is smack-dab in the middle of great BBQ country.

11
Toledo, Ohio

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Coronary heart disease rate: 7.8 percent
Population: 276,491

The "Glass City" is the first of five Ohio cities congregated among the top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to CHD rates. Among its surprisingly robust food scene is standout Tony Packo's delicious and decadent Hungarian hot dogs and chili dogs. 'Nuff said.

10
Gary, Indiana

gary indiana building, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.9 percent
Population: 76,008

Since 1960, Gary's population has dwindled by a jaw-dropping 50 percent. It's left a huge impact on the local infrastructure, including a lack of healthy food options.

9
Canton, Ohio

downtown in canton ohio, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.9 percent
Population: 70,909

Canton sits just south of the Cleveland metropolis, and shares that city's fondness for stout, Eastern European-based dishes, and contemporary American fast food.

8
Trenton, New Jersey

trenton new jersey state capitol buildings

Coronary heart disease rate: 7.9 percent
Population: 84,964

Trenton's many, beleaguered low-income neighborhoods have difficulty attracting premium supermarkets, leaving most residents without appropriate fresh food options.

7
Dayton, Ohio

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Coronary heart disease rate: 8.1 percent
Population: 140,371

Despite having a robust local healthcare industry—nationally esteemed institutions Miami Valley Hospital and Kettering Medical Center are located here—CHD rates in Dayton stubbornly rank among the top 10 in the nation.

6
Cleveland, Ohio

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Coronary heart disease rate: 8.3 percent
Population: 385,525

Between the food courts at Fairview Shopping Center, the Galleria at Erieview, the 5th Street Arcades, the Shops at Church Square, the Westgate Shopping Center, and dozens more malls, it's safe to say that Cleveland isn't exactly the healthiest food destination.

5
Detroit, Michigan

Beautiful warm sunset skyline of Detroit, USA from Windsor Ontario, Canada.

Coronary heart disease rate: 8.4 percent
Population: 673,1o4

Despite the Motor City's current revival, many neighborhoods in this sprawling metropolis remain "food deserts," meaning they lack access to supermarkets or fresh produce. According to the Institute for Research on Poverty, 19 of Detroit's dozens of neighborhoods are food deserts.

4
Youngstown, Ohio

mill waterfall in youngstown ohio Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 8.6 percent
Population: 64,604

Youngstown's problems—declining population and degrading infrastructure, like many post-industrial towns—directly affect the health of its citizens, who don't have many of the restaurants and grocery resources found in other communities.

3
Reading, Pennsylvania

reading pennsylvania, heart attack cities Shutterstock

Coronary heart disease rate: 8.7 percent
Population: 88,423

Reading is the self-proclaimed Pretzel Capital of the World. Need we say more?

2
Camden, New Jersey

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Coronary heart disease rate: 8.9 percent
Population: 74,532

Hard against the Delaware River, directly across from Philadelphia, is home to the famous Campbell Soup company.

1
Flint, Michigan

Flint Michigan

Coronary heart disease rate: 9 percent
Population: 96,448

Flint entered the nation's consciousness during the lead-laced water crisis of 2014, which remains to this day unresolved. Its lead-tainted water has also been linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, according to The Flint Journal. What's more, lead exposure has recently been linked to an increase in heart disease mortality among adults, according to 2018 research published in the British medical journal The Lancet. Though this heavy metal can be traced to a variety of sources—including dust and air conditioners—in the case of Flint, the municipal water supply is the likeliest culprit, since it reaches the widest number of people. And for more amazing city rankings, learn about The 50 Most Caffeinated Cities in America.

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