Background: Few national estimates of the prevalence of coronary heart disease in the United States are available.
Methods: By using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988 to 1994), we estimated prevalence of angina pectoris by questionnaire, self-reported myocardial infarction, and electrocardiographically (ECG)-defined myocardial infarction.
Results: Among participants aged >/=40 years who attended the medical examination, the age-adjusted prevalence of angina pectoris, self-reported myocardial infarction, and ECG-defined myocardial infarction were 5.8% of 9255, 6.7% of 9250, and 3.0% of 8206 participants, respectively. Among participants aged >/=65 years compared with those aged 40 to 64 years, the prevalence of a self-reported myocardial infarction was more than 3 times higher and that of ECG-defined myocardial infarction more than 4 times higher. The prevalences of self-reported myocardial infarction and ECG-defined myocardial infarction, but not angina pectoris, were higher among men than women. Among women, prevalence of angina pectoris and self-reported myocardial infarction were highest among blacks; among men, these coronary heart diseases were somewhat higher among whites. Prevalence of ECG-defined myocardial infarction were similar for all 3 race or ethnicity groups in either sex. The age-adjusted prevalence of coronary heart disease defined by the presence of any of these conditions was 13.9% among men and 10.1% among women.
Conclusions: Although the management of coronary heart disease has improved during the past 2 decades, it remains an important prevalent disease burden among adults.