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Heart Disease in the U.S.

Heart Disease in the U.S.

In 1963, President Johnson proclaimed February as American Heart Month. The latest American Heart Association statistics report 121.5 million adults in the U.S., 48% based on 2016 figures, have cardiovascular disease (Cardio: heart; Vascular: circulation).

  • An estimated 46% of adults have high blood pressure

  • About 610,000 people die of heart disease every year: 1 in 4 deaths

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women

  • Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack

  • Every year more than 795,000 people have a stroke, killing about 140,000 of them

Cardiovascular Diseases

  • Coronary artery disease: Affects the blood supply to the heart. It is commonly caused by atherosclerosis (see below)

  • Heart attack: Occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked by a blood clot or from atherosclerosis

  • Stroke: Occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked

    Ischemic: occurs when a blood vessel that feeds the brain is blocked

    Hemorrhagic: occurs when a blood vessel within the brain bursts, most commonly from high blood pressure

  • Heart failure (congestive heart failure): The heart can’t pump blood as well as it should. The body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met

  • Arrhythmia: Abnormal heart rhythm

  • Heart valve problems: Occurs when valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through as it should

Atherosclerosis and Plaque

  • Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood

  • Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries (supply oxygen-rich blood to your body), causing atherosclerosis

  • This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart, brain, and other parts of your body

  • Plaques can rupture. When they do, a blood clot can form on the plaque, blocking the flow of blood


Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Smoking

About half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

  • Diabetes

  • Overweight and obesity

  • Poor diet

  • Physical inactivity

  • Excessive alcohol use


  • Don’t smoke

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Eat a healthy diet

  • Exercise regularly

  • Treat your health conditions, especially high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes

Heart Attack symptoms

  • Chest pain or discomfort. It may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. It may also feel like indigestion

    Angina, or chest pain, is caused by lack of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.

  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, shoulders, or upper stomach

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea, lightheaded, or cold sweats

Call 9-1-1 for immediate medical assistance.

Stroke symptoms: F.A.S.T.

  • Face Drooping: One side of your face droops or is numb. For example, a smile that is uneven or lopsided

  • Arm Weakness: One arm is weak or numb. For example, ask the person to raise both arms. Watch to see if one arm drifts downward

  • Speech: You are unable to speak, or your speech is slurred and hard to understand

  • Time: Call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately

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