Facts About Heart Disease

Preventing heart disease starts with knowing the facts


Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. It kills more than 600,000 people every year — making it the cause of one in every four deaths.

The heart is a complex organ. Taking care of it can lead to a longer life and better health, but it requires you be an active participant in your own heart health. Knowing more about how your heart works and the signs and symptoms of heart disease could help you take better care of it. Here are a few facts about your heart and the diseases that can affect it.

About heart disease

  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Each minute, more than one person in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
  • Men and women are both likely to feel chest pain during a heart attack, but women may also have more subtle symptoms, such as dizziness or fatigue, up to a month before the attack. Learn more about the unique symptoms of a heart attack in women.
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common cause of heart disease, occurs when cholesterol builds up in the blood vessels. Also known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, CAD increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Half of men and two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary artery disease have no previous symptoms.
  • Nearly half of Americans have one of these three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking. Other risk factors include diabetes, being overweight, and a lack of physical activity.

If you suspect a heart attack, call 911 immediately — early treatment can help prevent long-term damage to the heart.

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