Cardiovascular disease is No. 1 killer of Americans

Cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and stroke, is responsible for one-third of deaths in America, according to American Heart Association (AHA) data.

Medical professionals define cardiovascular disease as a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease has claimed 801,000 lives. Globally, heart disease and stroke were the No. 1 and 2 killers worldwide.

Data curated by HealthGrove

According to the AHA, there are seven key factors that contribute to heart disease. Those are smoking, exercise, diet, body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

In 2013, 31 percent of all deaths were from cardiovascular disease, with 80 percent occurring in low- and middle-income countries.


High blood pressure

The AHA stated 80 million American adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. It can have serious health risks if not treated. If someone’s blood pressure is too high too often, it can cause the tissue that makes up artery walls to get stretched beyond its healthy limit and become damaged.

Data curated by HealthGrove

High blood pressure often does not have symptoms, which is why it is commonly referred to as a silent killer. There are often myths that someone with high blood pressure will have sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing.

Experts recommend regular visits to a primary doctor as a way to stay educated on one’s health.

Some preventive steps include a healthy diet, exercising regularly, reducing stress and avoiding tobacco smoke.


Stroke is the fifth cause of death among U.S. adults. “A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die,” according to the AHA website.

A stroke can have serious and lasting impact. Depending on what side of the brain the stroke occurs, it can cause memory loss, paralysis, speech problems and vision problems. Every year around 129,000 people will die from a stroke.

Data curated by HealthGrove

FAST is an acronym for the most commonly known symptoms for a stroke. These signs tend to appear quickly and all of a sudden.   

  •      Face. Ask the person to smile. Does the face look uneven?
  •      Arms. Ask the person to raise both of their arms.Is one arm unable to move? Does one arm look uneven compared to the other?
  •      Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound unusual?  Strange speech could be slurred, the wrong words may come out, or the person is unable to speak.
  •      Time to call 9-1-1.

For cardiovascular diseases, preventive steps against stroke include a healthy diet, exercising regularly and avoiding tobacco smoke.

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About Sara Brown

Sara Brown is the Sampan health editor.

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