Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, refers to several conditions of the heart and diseases that attack the heart and circulatory system, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, heart valve problems and arrhythmias. Reduced blood flow to the heart caused by thickened and hardened arteries as well as fatty plaque buildup in the arteries causes heart disease. This buildup narrows the arteries making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. Subsequent blood clots can cause heart attack, and clogged or burst blood vessels can cause stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. One in every four deaths is caused by heart disease. In women, heart disease kills one in every three and kills more women than all cancers combined. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is more fatal to women than breast cancer, and nearly two-thirds of women who die of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. Other risk factors include poor diet, inactivity, obesity, and diabetes.
In the United States, February is recognized as American Heart Month. On the first Friday of February each year, men and women wear red to show their support for heart disease research on National Wear Red Day. The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign encourages increased education about and prevention of heart disease in women across the country.