Heart Disease

Dedicated to preventing heart disease and promoting a healthy, active lifestyle for all


Heart disease, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure and congenital heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Prevention includes quitting smoking, lowering cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising.


The term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with the term "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart's muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease


Key Definitions
  • Heart disease refers to several different types of heart conditions.
  • Coronary artery disease is a type of heart disease that occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
  • Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits, which can accumulate in your arteries.
  • Atherosclerosis is a condition that occurs when too much plaque builds up in your arteries, causing them to narrow.
  • Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the body. High levels in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's use of insulin. Insulin tells the body to remove sugar from the blood. People with diabetes either don't make enough insulin, can't use their own insulin as well as they should, or both.
  • Obesity is excess body fat.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  • Can lead to serious problems like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
  • Managing your cholesterol is a way you can reduce your risk of heart disease
  • The word cholesterol is often used to refer to a group of substances also called lipids. Keeping each of these in the desired range helps reduce your risk for several diseases. 
  • Know your cholesterol numbers- one in every 300 to 500 people have an inherited condition called Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH). Fewer than 10% of these individuals have actually been diagnosed, making them at-risk for early heart attacks. FH is treatable and can reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • The only way to know if your cholesterol levels are normal is to get tested. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol and other risk factors checked every four to six years, and work with their healthcare provider to determine their risk for heart disease and stroke.
Risk Factors for High Cholesterol
  • Family history
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Being inactive
  • Eating an unhealthy diet 
  • Certain diseases
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
  • Being inactive or not getting enough physical activity
  • Using tobacco
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Having diabetes, pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome 
  • Carrying too much weight
Risk Factors for Heart Disease You Can’t Control
  • Being older
  • Being male
  • Having already had a stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA) or heart attack
  • Having a personal or family history of high cholesterol 
  • Being African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native
Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
  • 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
    • Can occur with or without chest discomfort
  • Other signs
    • Breaking out in a cold sweat
    • Nausea
    • Lightheadedness

Spokane or Washington Specific Data


Take Action to Support Your Heart Health:

Know your risk of heart disease

  • Know your family health history and share this information with your healthcare provider
  • Learn how family history, lifestyle choices and other health concerns increase your risk of heart disease

Check your blood pressure

  • Ask your healthcare provider what range is best for you. For most people, that range is less than 120/80.
  • Get your blood pressure checked by your provider and track your numbers here.
  • Know what your blood pressure numbers mean.
  • Take steps to manage high blood pressure

Make Lifestyle Changes

  • Lose weight if you are not at a healthy weight
  • Lower your sodium intake
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be physically active
  • Live tobacco-free
  • Limit alcohol intake to take two drinks per day
  • Manage stress

26.6 million Number of adults with diagnosed heart disease (CDC)

26.6 million Number of adults with diagnosed heart disease (CDC)

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