Heart disease — also called cardiovascular disease — includes numerous health conditions, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. Plaque is made up of fats, proteins, and other substances in the blood. Plaque buildup not only narrows the arteries, but it injures them, making it harder for blood to flow through the body. This is also known as coronary artery disease.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) also encompasses other conditions, including stroke, heart failure, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), high blood pressure, and heart valve issues. Infections of the heart (such as endocarditis) are not common in healthy people, but do fall under the category of heart disease.
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Depending on the type of heart disease and the severity, heart disease can cause heart attacks, strokes, or heart failure. Every year in the United States, 605,000 people will have their first heart attack, and 200,000 will have a recurrent heart attack. The average age for a first heart attack is 66 years old for men and 72 years old for women.1
|Risk Factors You Can Control||Risk Factors You Can’t Control|
|Smoking||Family History of Heart Disease or Stroke|
|Manage Your Diabetes||Gender (men have higher rates of heart disease)|
|Manage Your High Blood Pressure|
1 American Heart Association, https://professional.heart.org/idc/groups/ahamah-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_503396.pdf
2 American Stroke Association, https://www.strokeassociation.org/en/about-stroke/types-of-stroke
3 Medline Plus,https://medlineplus.gov/arrhythmia.html
4 American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/what-is-atrial-fibrillation-afib-or-af
5 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-valve-disease