Heart Disease

In the United States, heart disease is the number cause of death for both men and women. What is heart disease ? Heart disease is a group of disorders that affect the heart. The most common type of heart disease in the U.S. is called Coronary Heart disease (CHD), which occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries (supply blood to the heart) . Atherosclerosis is the process where the build up of plaque causes the arteries to become narrow- making it harder for blood to travel through. If a blood clot were to form, it can stop the blood flow, which may cause a heart attack or stroke.

2013 statistics on heart disease for African-American women age 20 years and older

• According to the American Heart Association (AHA) , 48.9 % of African – American women have cardiovascular disease (heart disease) .

• According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 7.1 % of African – American women have coronary heart disease (CHD).

Risk factors – that can be modified to reduce the risk of developing heart disease

• Smoking cigarettes – encourages plaque to build up in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Nicotine elevates blood pressure ( high blood pressure is also a risk factor for heart disease).

• Diet- high in saturated fats and cholesterol increases cholesterol levels as well as encourages atherosclerosis. Diet high in sodium increases blood pressure levels.

• Physical inactivity- can increase other risk factors for heart disease such as obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and diabetes.

• Obesity – is connected with several risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, higher LDL (bad) cholesterol, low (good) cholesterol, and diabetes.

• Alcohol- too much alcohol increases triglyceride levels, which leads to atherosclerosis. Too much alcohol also leads to an increase in blood pressure.

Prevention – tips to prevent or reduce the risk of developing heart disease

• Healthy eating- increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat, reduce the amount of salt or sodium in your diet, eat foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol , and eat foods that are high in fiber.

• Maintain a healthy weight- find out what is your healthy weight number by calculating your body mass index(BMI). You can find out what your BMI is visit CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site.

• Exercise regularly- working out can help you maintain a healthy weight as well as lower your cholesterol level and blood pressure. Aim to exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week, participate in moderate-intensity workouts.

• Don’t smoke- if you do smoke, try to quit smoking to decrease your risk for heart disease. For information on how to quit, visit CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site.

• Limit alcohol use – try not to drink too much alcohol.

Heart facts

• When you’re exercising, it takes your blood about ten seconds to get from your heart to your big toe and back.

• A heart beats approximately 100,000 times a day.

• The heart pumps about 7,200 liters (1,900 gallons) of blood.


1. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, Bravata DM, Dai S, Ford ES, Fox CS, Franco S, Fullerton HJ, Gillespie C, Hailpern SM, Heit JA, Howard VJ, Huffman MD, Kissela BM, Kittner SJ, Lackland DT, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth LD, Magid D, Marcus GM, Marelli A, Matchar DB, McGuire DK, Mohler ER, Moy CS, Mussolino ME, Nichol G, Paynter NP, Schreiner PJ, Sorlie PD, Stein J, Turan TN, Virani SS, Wong ND, Woo D, Turner MB;on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013; 127:e6-e245.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Heart Disease. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/

3. American Heart Association (2011). What is Cardiovascular Disease (Heart Disease)?.

Available at http://www.heart.org

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