Understanding Heart Health

February is American heart month.

You’ve probably heard that heart health is a critical to longevity—but did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States?1

Heart disease is the name for a group of conditions that affect the heart and arteries. Heart disease can lead to chest pains, heart attack, and stroke.2 The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which occurs when cholesterol builds up in the arteries around the heart, making it more difficult for blood to get to the heart and possibly causing a heart attack.3

Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity, sedentary life style, high alcohol intake, a diet high in sodium and trans and saturated fats, and a family history of heart disease.4, 5, 6

You can be screened for heart disease by your doctor. Learn more about heart disease and heart health.


  1. “Heart Disease Fact Sheet,” Centers for Disease Control, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_disease.htm
  2. “Heart Disease: Symptoms,” Mayo Clinic, 2014, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/basics/symptoms/con-20034056
  3. “Coronary Artery Disease (CAD),” Centers for Disease Control, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/coronary_ad.htm
  4. “Conditions that Increase Risk for Heart Disease,” Centers for Disease Control, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/conditions.htm
  5. “Heart Disease Behavior,” Centers for Disease Control, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/behavior.htm
  6. “Family History and Other Characteristics That Increase Risk for Heart Disease,” Centers for Disease Control, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/family_history.htm
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sgrenrock

sgrenrock

Web Writer at IFAS Communications

Sam is originally from California and has her BA in linguistics and MFA in poetry. She loves art, animals, culture, and learning about science.

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