Findings of a new consumer survey of more than 1,500 adults across the United States sheds light on dangerous misconceptions and lack of awareness around heart disease, the leading killer in the U.S. The research shows that while most people are optimistic about new health innovations, anxieties and fear may prevent people from seeking effective treatment for their heart health. Results of the survey was announced by HeartFlow, Inc.
Mortal Misconceptions: Over 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year according to the Centers for Disease Control; that’s nearly 1 in every 4 deaths, yet a startling percentage of Americans are unaware of this enormous health risk. According to the HeartFlow survey, only 29 percent of respondents know that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death. The remaining 71 percent believe that health threats such as cancer, drug use, or vehicular accidents, among other factors, claim the most lives.
The findings also demonstrate a significant lack of knowledge on women’s susceptibility to heart disease. Half (50 percent) of Americans mistakenly believe that breast cancer is the leading killer of women, when, in fact, it is heart disease. An analysis of the female responses reveals that awareness isn’t much greater among women themselves: 46 percent of female respondents think breast cancer kills most women, while only 41 percent know that heart disease claims the most lives.
“We are aiming to raise awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men. It’s not just a man’s disease, as commonly thought,” said Campbell Rogers, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, HeartFlow. “The symptoms for women are often different than the classic ‘clutching of the heart’, so it’s important for both women and men to visit their doctor if something doesn’t seem right.”
Avoidance and Anxieties: One potential factor in today’s heart disease epidemic may be patients’ wariness to visit their physician. Despite 42 percent of Americans knowing they have a family history of heart disease and another 77 percent admitting to worrying about their heart health, most (67 percent) have never sought diagnosis or treatment.
Specific to cardiac care, the most common dread (30 percent) is misdiagnosis or a completely missed diagnosis. This fear is understandable, given that many diagnostic tests have accuracy lower than a coin toss. However, many of today’s technologies are improving accuracy drastically. For example, the HeartFlow Analysis provides the highest diagnostic performance available from a non-invasive test.1
Technology’s Changing Tide: Fortunately for patients, improved diagnosis and treatment pathways are possible with emerging medical technologies. One such innovation is the HeartFlow Analysis a non-invasive personalized cardiac test that leverages deep learning and highly trained analysts to create a digital 3D model of a patient’s coronary arteries to help clinicians identify the best treatment pathway for each patient.
The survey suggests that consumers are becoming more comfortable with new technologies, with 78 percent of people indicating they trust artificial intelligence technology to assist doctors with their tasks. Additionally, 78 percent think a combination of technology and human analysis results in the most accurate diagnosis, over either alone. In their everyday lives, 24 percent say they use an app to monitor their health.
“At HeartFlow, we firmly believe that technology will play an integral role in changing patient care for the better,” said John H. Stevens, M.D., President and CEO, HeartFlow. “However, the physician’s role in the patient journey is crucial, and we expect to see the best care administered only when doctors and technology work hand in hand.”
For more information on heart health and heart disease awareness, please visit HeartFlow’s Matters of the Heart page for additional resources.
Methodology: This online survey had 1,513 total respondents. It was fielded from November 23 to December 1, 2018, by HeartFlow and Researchscape. Results were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population.