Heart Disease

Preventing Deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke

The term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which affects blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack. Other related diseases include high blood pressure and stroke.

Each year, nearly 1 in 3 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease or stroke. Some risk factors that increase your chances of heart disease-related death can’t be controlled such as your age and family history, but, there are plenty of things you can do to decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke including:

  • Quitting tobacco
  • Getting more regular physical activity
  • Following a heart healthy diet with more fruits and vegetables and less saturated fat and sodium
  • Managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes through diet, physical activity, and medication

Controlling High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, which is often called a silent disease because it doesn’t have any symptoms, is a big threat to overall health. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease (including kidney failure), and death.

Blood pressure medicine can protect the heart, brain, and kidneys, but it only works if patients take it. To make sure your blood pressure is well controlled, consider doing the following:

  • Work with your healthcare provider to find a medication that best fits your needs with the fewest side effects.
  • Lose weight (even a small amount helps).
  • Be physically active on a regular basis (walking is good).
  • Season food with spices, not salt. Decrease processed foods in your diet and eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Quit tobacco. Nicotine raises your blood pressure.

All of these changes can have a positive impact on your blood pressure. In some cases by making these changes, people have been able to reduce the amount of medication they take or even stop taking medication altogether.

For more information, contact:

Chronic Disease Prevention
Allegheny County Health Department
Hosanna House
807 Wallace Ave., 2nd Fl.
Wilkinsburg, PA 15221