The heart is your bodyís largest muscle, continually pumping about 2000 gallons of blood through your body in one day. An average
adultís heart beats about 65-70 times a minute Ė about 100,000 beats per day. An unhealthy heart, such as one affected by heart disease
or high blood cholesterol cannot function at optional efficiency, and therefore, may reduce your chance of living a quality life. To
learn more about the heart and how it work, to go to the American
Heart Association webpage that describes the heartís function.!
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a dysfunctional condition of the heart, arteries, and veins that hinders the supply of oxygen to vital
life-sustaining areas of the body (such as the brain and the heart itself). The body needs a constant oxygen supply to live.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the Number 1 killer of Americans, accounting for about 1,000,000 (1 million) deaths each year, which
is about 42% of all deaths in a year. This amounts to one death every 30 seconds.
Although some risk factors for cardiovascular disease are not controllable, such as heart disease in your family history, age,
gender, and some diabetes, there are other risk factors that can be controlled by your choices. Those risk factors that you most
likely can control that put you at a higher risk for CVD are:
- Sedentary lifestyle (little or no physical activity)
- Overweight or Obese
- Unhealthy diet
- High cholesterol levels
- Tobacco use
- Moderate to high blood pressure
To read more about risk factors for cardiovascular disease that you can and cannot control, go to the
American Heart Association website.
Cholesterol and Heart Disease
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found throughout your body. It is also found in food such as eggs, meat and butter. Produced
by your body and transported in your blood, cholesterol is required for your body to function normally. It is manufactured in the liver
and used in the production of hormones, bile acid, Vitamin D and in the formation and repair of cell membranes. Cholesterol is measured
in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). The desirable level of total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL.
How does cholesterol affect your heart?
High blood cholesterol is one of the major independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Those with cholesterol levels of
240 mg/dL are at a greater risk of developing heart disease, the number one killer of women and men in the United States. When there
is too much cholesterol in your blood it builds up in the walls of your arteries causing them to harden. This condition is known as
arteriosclerosis. Blood flow to the heart is then slowed down or blocked, resulting in conditions ranging from chest pain to heart attack.
To learn more about how to determine your cholesterol level, and how to control your cholesterol so that you are not at risk for
heart disease, go to Healthy Hearts Your Cholesterol.
Obesity and Cardiovascular Health
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), more than half (about 108 million people) of American people are
overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for heart disease, as well as other diseases such as some cancers,
diabetes, osteoarthritis, and stroke.
How can you determine if you are overweight or obese?
One way to determine your weight status is the Body Mass Index (BMI). To find out how to determine your BMI, what your score means,
and why BMI measurements are important for your children, go to Healthy Hearts Body Mass Index.
The Role of Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Tobacco
Preventable risk factors for cardiovascular disease that you can control include sedentary lifestyles, poor diet, and tobacco use.
Lack of Physical Activity:
People who are sedentary have twice the risk of heart disease as those who are physically active. Inactivity and poor nutrition cause
at least 300,000 deaths each year in the United States, and obesity-related diseases cost the country more than $100 billion each year.
Despite these risks, studies show that more than half of American adults do not participate in regular physical activity for at least
30 minutes a day on most days of the week. More than one-fourth of the American adult population is completely sedentary. To learn
more about physical activity guidelines for adults and children, see Healthy Hearts Physical Activity.
Between 20% and 30% of the nationís adults (some 58 million people) are obese and thus have a higher risk for heart disease, high
blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes. Overweight and obesity rates of American
adults and children reveal that too many people are eating too much and not burning enough calories. The fact that heart disease is
directly related to overweight and obesity also suggests the importance of healthy eating. Eating foods that are high in fat and
calories results in significant increase in chances of having heart disease. Learn more about proper nutrition at
Healthy Hearts Nutrition.
Smokers have twice the risk of heart attack as nonsmokers. One-fifth of the annual 1,000,000 deaths from CVD are attributable to
smoking. Approximately 80% of smokers started before turning 18 and nearly 4,000 people under the age of 18 try their first cigarette
every day. An estimated 1,000,000 young people become "regular" smokers each year. See Healthy Hearts Tobacco to learn more.
Heart Attack Facts
A heart attack is an event that results in permanent heart damage or death due to the sudden death (infarction) of part of the heart
muscle (myocardium). Therefore, a heart attack is also known as a myocardial infarction. A heart attack occurs when one of the
coronary arteries becomes severely or totally blocked, and the heart muscle cannot get the oxygen-rich blood that it needs.
Each year about 1 million people have a heart attack and about one-third of those result in death. Nearly 70% of deaths from heart
attacks occur before a person can be admitted to a hospital. Someone's chance of surviving a heart attack depends on the treatment
that is given within the first hour of the heart attack. Call for professional help (call 911) immediately!
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack from the American Heart Association:
- Thereís pressure, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest
- Chest hurts or feels like its being pushed
- Shoulders, neck, back, jaw, or arm has pain or discomfort.
- Chest feels heavy AND a person faints, sweats a lot or cannot take deep breaths.
What You Should Do if You Suspect Someone is having a Heart Attack:
- Know the warning signs and act quickly!!
- If you notice one or more of the warning signs, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!
Parents educating Children about Heart Attacks:
- Talk to your children about the warning signs for a heart attack
- Talk about what action should be taken quickly if someone you know is having a heart attack
- Talk about ways family members can find out if they are at risk for a heart attack (go to http://americanheart.org)
- Have important family medical information ready and in a place that your family can find in case of an emergency.
Download a Family Medical Information Form (see below) that can be completed and put in
a safe place that all family members know about.
Centers for Disease Control website
About Cardiovascular Disease
Heart Center Online website
American Heart Association Website
|Family Medical Information