Heart disease is a term that includes several more specific heart conditions. The most common heart disease in the US is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to the buildup of plaque. The narrowing and buildup of plaques is called atherosclerosis. Plaques are a mixture of fatty and other substances including cholesterol and other lipids. Blood flow to the heart is reduced, which reduces oxygen to the heart muscle. This can lead to heart attack. Other heart conditions include angina, heart failure, and arrhythmias.

Key Facts

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of most racial/ethnic groups in the United States.
  • About 7.7% of all non-Hispanic white men, 7.1% of non-Hispanic black men, 5.9% of Hispanic men, and 5% of non-Hispanic Asian men have coronary heart disease.
  • Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.
  • Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

Prevention Tips

  • Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week.
  • Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. So, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
  • Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which causes high blood pressure.