February
is American Heart Month
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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 2008, an estimated 770,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack, and about 430,000 will have a recurrent attack. About every 26 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.

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. For more information on heart disease and stroke, visit CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.


Diseases 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. For more information on how to reduce these risk factors for heart disease, visit Heart Disease Prevention. For a full list of diseases and conditions along with risk factors and other health information associated with heart disease, visit the American Heart Association.

Know Your 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 lightheadedness.
The American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have launched a new "Act in Time" campaign to increase people's awareness of heart attack and the importance of calling 9-1-1 immediately at the onset of heart attack symptoms. Find the links here.


Healthy 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 American Heart Association recommendations:


Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans 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 day.

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 pressure).

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 man.

Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on your portion sizes.

Physical activity in your daily life is an important step to preventing heart disease. You can take a few simple steps at home, at work, and at play to increase the amount of physical activity in your life. Get tips and ideas here.

Women and Heart Disease: Quick Facts

Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a "man's disease," it is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States, and women account for 52.8% of the total heart disease deaths.

In 2004, heart disease was the cause of death in more than 450,000 females.

Heart disease is often perceived as an "older woman's disease," and it is the leading cause of death among women aged 65 years and older. However, heart disease is the third leading cause of death among women aged 25-44 years and the 2nd leading cause of death among women aged 45-64 years. Remember that many cases of heart disease can be prevented!

For more information and facts on Women and Heart Disease visit the Women and Heart Disease Fact Sheet.


CDC's WISEWOMAN Program

The mission of CDC's WISEWOMAN program is to provide low-income, under- or uninsured 40- to 64-year-old women with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to improve diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle behaviors to prevent or delay cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.

WISEWOMAN provides these additional services:

Screening for chronic disease risk factors
Dietary, physical activity, and smoking cessation interventions
Referral and follow-up as appropriate
 
For more information on how you can take advantage of these services, visit  WISEWOMAN and click on program locations.

Women and Heart Disease Campaigns

Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association's nationwide movement that celebrates the energy, passion, and power women have to band together and wipe out heart disease. Thanks to the participation of millions of people across the country, the color red and the red dress have become linked with the ability all women have to improve their heart health and live stronger, longer lives.

The Heart Truth Campaign - a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease- created and introduced the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 to deliver an urgent wakeup call to American women. The Red Dress alerts women of The Heart Truth message: "Heart Disease Doesn't Care What You Wear - It's the #1 Killer of Women."

National Wear Red Day
is a day when Americans nationwide will wear red to show their support for women's heart disease awareness. This observance promotes the Red Dress symbol and provides an opportunity for everyone to unite in this life-saving awareness movement by showing off a favorite red dress, shirt, or tie, or Red Dress Pin.


Participate in National Wear Red Day - Everyone (men too) can support the fight against heart disease in women by wearing red on February 1, 2008-National Wear Red Day.


Men and Heart Disease: Quick Facts

In 2004, heart disease was the cause of death in 410,000 American men.

The average age for a first heart attack for men is 66 years.

Almost half of men who have a heart attack under age 65 die within 8 years.

Between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men.

For more information and facts about men and heart disease, visit the Men and Heart Disease Fact Sheet.


Interactive Tools to Help Guide Your Everyday Choices

Know your heart numbers.  Find out what you can do to improve and maintain these numbers-and live a longer, stronger life.

Learn and Live Quiz.  Take our quiz to learn your risk for heart disease. Register after the quiz and we'll send you a free cookbook.

Special report: Women and Heart Disease.

Interactive Menu Planner


Resources/Useful Links

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Heart Disease
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, High Blood Pressure
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cholesterol

 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WISEWOMAN: Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Office of Public Health Genomics