February is American Heart
Month: Heart Disease is the Number One Cause of Death
Heart disease is the leading
cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability.
The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart
disease, which often appears as a heart attack. In 2009, an estimated
785,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack, and about 470,000
will have a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, an American will
have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.1
The chance of developing
coronary heart disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and
control factors that put people at greater risk. Additionally, knowing
the signs and symptoms of heart attack are crucial to the most positive
outcomes after having a heart attack. People who have survived a heart
attack can also work to reduce their risk of another heart attack or a
stroke in the future.
and Conditions That Put Your Heart at Risk
Other conditions that affect
your heart or increase your risk of death or disability include
arrhythmia, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease (PAD). High
cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco, and
secondhand smoke are also risk factors associated with heart disease.
Signs and Symptoms
Some heart attacks are sudden
and intense; however, most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain
or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait
too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart
attack is happening:
- Chest discomfort.
Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that
lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can
feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other
areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or
discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath.
May occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs:
These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or
Lifestyle: Diet and Nutrition, Exercise and Fitness
A healthy diet and lifestyle
are the best weapons you have to fight heart disease. Many people make
it harder than it is. It is important to remember that it is the
overall pattern of the choices you make that counts. As you make daily
food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations:
- Choose lean meats and poultry
without skin and prepare them without added saturated andtrans fat.
- Select fat-free, 1% fat, and
low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on foods containing
partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
- Cut back on foods high in
dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each
- Cut back on beverages and
foods with added sugars.
- Choose and prepare foods with
little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (or
less than 1,500 mg if you are in a higher risk group for high blood
- If you drink alcohol, drink
in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if
you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a
- Keep an eye on your portion
For more information on the
CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/DHDSP/.