What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular Disease Facts

Cardiovascular Disease Conditions

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Symptoms, Treatment & Lifestyle Changes

Cardiovascular Disease in African Americans

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) or heart disease is a group of conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to high blood pressure, a heart attack, heart failure, chest pain (angina) or stroke.

Cardiovascular Disease Facts

Anyone can develop CVD. According to the American Heart Association, CVD continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States with nearly 2,400 Americans dying each day. Among Blacks or African Americans, 10.2 percent have heart disease, 6.0 percent have coronary heart disease, 31.7 percent have hypertension and 3.7 percent have had a stroke. According to the Florida Department of Health, heart disease is the number one cause of death in African Americans in Florida. CVD also affects more African American women than men.

This graph shows that out of deaths caused by conditions or events such as cancer, accidents, assault, and diabetes, CVD causes the highest deaths among African Americans. In 2006, CVD deaths happened more in women than men (35.9% women, 32.3% men).

Cardiovascular Disease Conditions

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis happens when there is too much plaque in the blood vessels that carry blood. The plaque can pile up and form a block in the blood vessel which can slow or stop blood flow.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure happens when pressure in the blood is too high. There are usually no symptoms that can signal high blood pressure.

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

A heart attack happens when the death of heart muscle from the sudden blockage of a coronary artery by a blood clot. A heart attack happens when plaque blocks the vessels that bring blood to the heart. Overtime, parts of the heart get hurt or die because of slowed to stop blood flowing to the heart.

Chest Pain (Angina)

Chest pain is a symptom of coronary artery disease. It is a squeezing pain in the chest when the heart is not getting enough blood. Pain may also spread to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.

Stroke

Heart Failure

Heart failure does not mean that the heart stops. Heart failure means that the heart has trouble pumping blood to meet the body’s needs.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease happens when plaque blocks the vessels that bring blood to the heart. Plaque is made of a very waxy and fatty substance called cholesterol. This plaque builds up overtime causing the pathway in the arteries to get smaller and smaller. If you think of a hairball getting stuck in your vacuum cleaner, the same thing is happening in your heart. When the hairball gets too big, the dirt can’t get through the vacuum hose into the vacuum. When the plaque in your heart builds up to much, the blood is blocked and cannot get into your heart. When this happens, the heart does not get the blood it needs to do its job and begins to die. This can cause abnormal heartbeats or even heart failure!

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Tobacco Smoking

Smoking cigarettes promotes the development of atherosclerosis which can increase the amount of clots or blockages in the blood vessels. Nicotine also raises blood pressure.

High Blood Cholesterol

Cholesterol comes from food and the body. Low density lipoprotein or LDL is “bad” cholesterol, high density lipoprotein or HDL is “good” cholesterol. Too much LDL can clog arteries carrying blood, which leads to cardiovascular disease. More HDL lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure happens when pressure in the blood is too high. There are usually no symptoms that can signal high blood pressure.

Physical Inactivity

Low physical activity can lead to CVD. It can also lead to other risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular physical activity helps to reduce these risk factors.

Obesity and Overweight

Obesity is extra fat within the body. Regular activity helps to maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure which increases the chances of the development of CVD.

Diet and Nutrition

Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol can lead to CVD. Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis. Foods high in salt can also raise blood pressure levels. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol can help to prevent high blood pressure.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus increases the chance of the development of CVD. Diabetes mellitus happens when there is a lot of sugar in the blood. With diabetes mellitus, the body either does not make enough insulin, the body cannot use its own insulin, or both. Insulin helps to lower the amount of sugar in the blood.

Cardiovascular Disease Detection (Symptoms), Treatment, Lifestyle Changes

Cardiovascular Disease Detection (Symptoms)

How do you know if you have CVD? Signs and symptoms of CVD depend on the CVD condition. Most of the time, the first sign is chest pain or a heart attack. Doctors can do different tests to help detect CVD. Tests include, chest X-rays, coronary angiograms, electrocardiograms, and exercise stress tests.

Cardiovascular Disease Treatment

Medications can be used to treat the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Medications used are used to treat risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, and low blood flow.

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention/Lifestyle Changes

Cardiovascular disease can be prevented by controlling seven factors: what you eat, getting active, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, losing weight, lowering blood sugar and stop smoking.

Lower Your Risk