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Heart Disease and Stroke Fact Sheets

Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a broad term which includes heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure and congenital cardiovascular defects.

Cardiovascular Disease Deaths Among African Americans
Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for African Americans, claiming 5,679 lives for those older than the age of 34 in 2003.

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) are classified as nonmodifiable or modifiable. Nonmodifiable risk factors cannot be controlled.

A number of medical studies have found that a high level of cholesterol is a major factor in developing atherosclerosis, the narrowing of arteries through a buildup of fatty plaque. The typical American diet tends to be high in cholesterol and dietary fat.

Heart Attack - En Español
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. CHD is caused by a narrowing of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart and often results in a heart attack.

Heart Attack – Cardiac Arrest – Stroke Warnings Fact Sheet
Today, heart attack and stroke victims can benefit from new medications and treatments unavailable to patients in years past. For example, clot-busting drugs can stop some heart attacks and strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving lives. But to be effective, these drugs must be given relatively quickly after heart attack or stroke symptoms first appear.
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Heart Disease
Heart disease, which includes ischemic heart disease, coronary heart failure and other diseases of the heart, is the leading cause of death in Illinois and the United States.

Heart Disease, Stroke and Diabetes
In Illinois, heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than people without diabetes.

Heart Disease, Stroke and Obesity - En Español
Obesity is defined simply as too much body fat. If you have too much fat – especially in your waist area – you’re at higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Heart Disease, Stroke and Physical Activity - En Español
Regular physical activity reduces a person's chances of dying of coronary heart disease, the nation's leading cause of death, and decreases the risk for stroke, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Heart Disease, Stroke and Tobacco
Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of heart disease in the United States.  Smoking actually triples the risk of dying from heart disease.  People who use tobacco are more likely to have heart attacks, high blood pressure, blood clots, strokes, hemorrhages, aneurisms, and other disorders of the cardiovascular system.

High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood as it moves through the blood vessels. If blood cannot flow easily through the vessels, the force increases. If the force is too great, you have high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure: Things People with Disability Need to Know

Know Your Numbers - En Español
Your risk for heart disease and stroke can be assessed by knowing your numbers for body composition, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar and by understanding what they mean.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Disease
According to studies published in the journals of Circulation, Arthritis and Rheumatism, Journal of Rheumatology and Arthritis Research and Therapy, people with rheumatoid arthritis have a greater risk of heart disease than the general population.

Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease. It affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

Stroke is a Brain Attack - En Español
The origination of the term "brain attack" and its application to stroke are credited to two world-renowned neurologists from Canada. The National Stroke Association began to champion the term in 1990 because it characterizes the medical condition and communicates the actual event more clearly to the public than does the word "stroke."

Women and Cardiovascular Disease


Warning Signs

Heart Attack
  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath along with, or before, chest discomfort
  • Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

For Women

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.


  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Call 911if you have any of these symptoms or if you see someone else experiencing these warning signs. Treatment is more effective if given quickly. Every minute counts!

Who is at Risk?

Can I Reduce My Risk?


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