Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA and February is American heart health month. The term cardiovascular disease or CVD is the blanket term used to describe diseases of the heart and blood vessels. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease or CAD. Coronary artery disease affects the blood flow to the heart, which if decreased can lead to a heart attack.
Plaque build-up in the arteries is a contributing factor to CAD. Plaque is made up of cholesterol and other substances that build up causing a narrowing of the arteries and blocking blood flow. CAD, over time, can weaken the heart leading to heart failure, a condition where the heart stops pumping blood accurately.
Lifestyle, age, and other health conditions are all contributing factors to increased risk of heart disease. The CDC estimates that 47% of all Americans have at least 1 of 3 key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
Becoming physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, stopping smoking, and eating a heart-healthy diet all lower the risk of CVD. In the United States, black adults die at a rate two times higher than white adults from heart disease. The CDC Foundation partnered with Million Hearts to create the “Live the Beat” campaign aimed at bringing awareness to this fact and encouraging black Americans to become more engaged with their health.