Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.  In fact, it’s estimated that one in three adults has some form of heart/cardiovascular disease.  But the good news is 80 percent of heart disease and stroke can be prevented.  It’s important that you know if you are at risk for heart disease so that you make the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent it. Or if you have heart disease, you can lead a healthier life by learning more about your condition and becoming an active participant in your care. 


Heart disease is any disorder that affects your heart’s ability to function properly.  The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis.  This condition involves the hardening of the arteries that provide oxygen to the heart.  The build-up of plaque can reduce or prevent blood flow from reaching the heart, causing a heart attack.  It can also block blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.  Other forms of heart disease include arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), heart failure, heart valve diseases and congenital heart diseases.  


There are several risk factors for heart disease. Some are inherited, while others are controllable and related to lifestyle.  

Non-Modifiable risk factors:

·     Family history of heart disease (father or brother diagnosed before 55; mother or sister diagnosed before age 65)

·     Age – 45 or older for men, 55 or older for women

Modifiable risk factors:

·     High cholesterol and triglycerides (specifically high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol)

·     High blood pressure

·     Poor diet (a diet high in saturated and trans fat, salt and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease)

·     Physical Inactivity

·     Overweight/obesity

·     Smoking

·     Diabetes

·     Stress


On average, someone in the United States suffers a heart attack every 26 seconds.  It is important to be able to recognize the signs of a heart attack and take immediate action.  A person’s chances of surviving a heart attack is increased if emergency treatment is provided as soon as possible. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

·     Chest discomfort (usually in the center of the chest) that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, heartburn/indigestion/gas, or pain.

·     Discomfort, numbness or tingling in other areas of the upper body that’s located in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

·     Shortness of breath that occurs along with chest discomfort, particularly with any strenuous activity. Shortness of breath also can occur before chest discomfort.

·     Other symptoms may include breaking out into a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.

If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, please call 911 immediately and place an aspirin under the tongue. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention