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Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease causes reduced blood flow to the heart and is the leading cause of death in the US. There are a variety of behavioral choices that increase risk of coronary heart disease and may be influenced by our built environment (e.g., physical activity, unhealthy diet).


Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart condition, with around 1 in 20 adults living with the disease. Coronary heart disease is the result of plaque building up in a person’s arteries, damaging the arteries and causing them to narrow and slow or block the flow of blood. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial/ethnic groups in the country. It was the cause of 1 in every 5 deaths in the U.S. in 2021.

Human Health Mechanism

A common symptom of coronary heart disease is angina, or chest pain or discomfort, which is caused when an area of the heart muscle does not receive oxygen-rich blood. Coronary heart disease places individuals at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Heart attacks occur when blood flow to a section of the heart suddenly becomes blocked and the heart does not receive oxygen. A stroke is when brain cells are damaged due to lack of oxygen, caused by blocked blood flow or ruptured blood vessels. The risk of heart disease is also linked to the built environment in which one lives. Neighborhood characteristics determine how active a person can be, which is linked to cardiovascular health outcomes. Neighborhood design features that are supportive of physical activity, such as increased walkability and places for recreation, are protective against heart disease.

Indicator Measurement

Data are available through the CDC PLACES public dashboard and are collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which is a state-based, telephone interview survey. BRFSS provides coronary heart disease prevalence data by modeling the percentage of adults who report ever having been told by a doctor, nurse, or other health professional that they had angina or coronary heart disease.

Related Health Outcomes & Exposures

Greenness, Walkability, Traffic Proximity, Noise Pollution, Waste Proximity, Extreme Heat, Physical Inactivity, Physical Disability, Obesity, High Blood Pressure


Click here for References
  1. Coronary Heart Disease Data Source: CDC. CDC PLACES: Coronary Heart Disease. Data year 2020. Accessed April 2023.
  2. ​​ Brittin J, Sorensen D, Trowbridge M, et al. Physical activity design guidelines for school architecture. PLOS ONE. 2015;10(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132597
  3. CDC. Heart Disease Facts. Published May 15, 2023. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  4. CDC. Coronary Heart Disease, Myocardial Infarction, and Stroke. Published July 31, 2019. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  5. Chandrabose M, den Braver NR, Owen N, Sugiyama T, Hadgraft N. Built Environments and Cardiovascular Health: REVIEW AND IMPLICATIONS. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2022;42(6):416-422. doi:10.1097/HCR.0000000000000752