Protect your heart


What is heart disease?

1 in every 4 deaths in the United States are related to Heart Disease.

The term heart disease refers to a variety of health conditions that impact heart function. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States overall and among men, women, and most racial groups. Coronary Artery Disease is the most common form of Heart Disease. Coronary Artery Disease is a condition defined by the buildup of plaque in the arteries that impacts blood flow to the heart and puts the individual at risk of heart attack.

Heart Disease may also include cardiac events such as:

  • Heart Attack – a blood clot cuts off blood flow completely and heart muscle begins to die
  • Arrhythmias – Abnormal heart rhythms 
    • Bradycardia – the heart beats too slow (less than 60 beats per minute)
    • Tachycardia – the heart beats too fast (over 100 beats per minute)
  • Heart Failure or Congestive Heart Failure – the heart is not pumping blood as effectively as it should. The heart is still working but not pumping enough blood to keep up with the body’s blood and oxygen needs


Heart disease can present as a variety of symptoms. It is important to be aware and seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms. 

Heart Attack  

Pain or discomfort in the chest, upper back/neck pain, heartburn, indigestion, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.


Heart palpitations or feeling of fluttering in the chest

Heart Failure

Fatigue, difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.


Certain behaviors or lifestyle characteristics may increase your risk of Heart Disease. It is important to understand your risk and take action to minimize your chances of experiencing a cardiac event. Educate yourself about your risk factors and discuss them in more detail with your doctor at your yearly physical. Oftentimes, you can implement simple changes in your daily life to minimize risk and improve your overall health.

The following characteristics or behaviors increase your risk of Heart Disease.

  • Unhealthy Diet
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Increased Age

Health Conditions that Increase your risk of Heart Disease

There are several health conditions that contribute to an increased risk of Heart Disease. If you have been diagnosed with any of the following conditions, start a conversation with your doctor about steps you can take to lower your risk of Heart Disease. 

  • Overweight/Obesity
  • Diabetes – Educate Yourself
  • High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
  • High Cholesterol
  • Mental Health – Chronic Stress, Anxiety, PTSD

Women and heart disease

There is a common misconception that Heart Disease primarily affects middle-aged or older men when in reality Heart Disease significantly impacts both genders. 1 in 4 women in the United States dies from Heart Disease.


The same risk factors apply to both men and women, however women typically experience Heart Disease later in life than men. This is due to the increased risk that is introduced with menopause. 



While many of the signs and symptoms of Heart Disease are the same among men and women, there are certain heart conditions or symptoms that are more common among women. 


Women are more likely to experience silent heart attacks or experience different symptoms than men. 

Symptoms that are more common in women include:

  • Pain in the back, neck, jaw, or throat
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Trouble breathing

Want to learn about Heart Disease and Women? The following organizations are doing their part to raise awareness. 

Heart Disease Screenings

Regular health screenings are important. Heart Disease can easily go undiagnosed due to the nature of the condition. Oftentimes the symptoms can be “silent” so it is important to attend your yearly physical and speak to your doctor about potential risks.

Common health screenings that can provide valuable information on Heart Disease risk include:

  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Weight
  • Waist Circumference
  • Blood Glucose Test
  • Discussion of Smoking, Physical Activity, and Diet

Many of these recommended screenings take place during a regular healthcare visit while others are only necessary every couple years for normal-risk adults. 

Lower your risk

Learn the ABCS of heart healthy living!

Learn more about the ABCS of Heart Health

A healthy diet is an important piece to the puzzle when managing your heart health. It can help to manage your weight as well as your cholesterol levels. 

Consider following the DASH Eating Plan The DASH Eating Plan is a flexible eating plan for a heart-healthy lifestyle and has been shown to lower blood pressure and LDL Cholesterol.

Below are some foods that you should incorporate in your diet

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy
  • Fish 
  • Nuts

Foods you should avoid 

To keep your heart healthy, try to limit your intake of sodium  and saturated fats

  • Fatty meats
  • High fat dairy
  • Pizza
  • Burgers
  • Gravy
  • Salt – look for items with low-sodium or “no salt added”

Helpful Resources for maintaining a heart healthy diet

Heart Healthy Shopping List

DASH Eating Plan 

Healthy Eating on a Budget

USDA MyPlate App

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. It is important to find ways to stay active to keep your heart healthy. 

There are many ways to stay active and keep yourself moving. Some suggestions include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Biking
  • Running
  • Jumping rope
  • Hiking 
  • Skiing

Staying active does not mean that you need to spend hundreds of dollars on a gym membership or exercise classes. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air by walking with friends or experiment with home workouts. There are plenty of free or low-cost fitness apps and videos available that you can try in your own home. A short list of free at-home fitness options can be found below. 

  • Body coach tv
  • Fitness blender
  • HASfit
  • Heather Robertson
  • Nike Training Club
  • Popsugar Fitness
  • Johnson & Johnson Official 7 minute Workout
  • Kit Rich
  • CorePower Yoga on Demand
  • Yoga with Adriene

Managing stress is another way that you can minimize your risk of Heart Disease. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and exercise there are several strategies that you can use to relieve stress in your life.

  • Sleep 
  • Avoid stressful situations or triggers 
  • Set realistic goals
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation music
  • Counseling


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