HEART DISEASE AND STROKE
America's Top 3 Causes of Death (2002)
Heart Disease 696,947
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in America, accounting for approximately 25% of all deaths in the country. Stroke is the third leading cause of death.
Heart disease and stroke often result from a narrowing of the blood vessels.
This narrowing can severely reduce or even stop blood flow to important organs like the heart or brain.
Blood carries oxygen and important nutrients to cells in the body. Without oxygen, heart muscle cells or brain cells begin to die. The patient can suffer permanent disability, and even death.
Occurs when deposits of fat, cholesterol and other substances build up in the inner lining of a blood vessel. This buildup is called a plaque. Plaques can block blood flow causing strokes and heart attacks.
If a blood vessel traveling to the brain is blocked, it causes a stroke.
If a blood vessel in the heart is blocked, it causes a heart attack.
The leading cause of heart disease and stroke is atherosclerosis (ath"er-o-skleh-RO'sis). Atherosclerosis occurs when cholesterol and other deposits build up on the inner walls of the blood vessels. Over time this build up narrows the blood vessels, limiting the supply of blood and oxygen to organs in the body.
Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes will increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
These risk factors tend to run in families. That's why it's so important to know your family medical history.
You may be at risk if you have a close relative (grandparent, parent, or sibling) who has had a heart attack or stroke before age 55. You may also be at risk if high blood pressure or high cholesterol runs in your family.
The best way to both lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure is to avoid smoking tobacco.
Maintaining a healthy body weight, participating in regular physical activity, and eating foods low in fat
and cholesterol will also reduce your risk.
If you think you may be at risk for developing a cardiovascular disease, have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly by a doctor.
Supported by the Utah Department of Health Chronic Disease Genomics Program through Cooperative Agreement Number U58/CCU822802 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.