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Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, accounting for 14,981 deaths or approximately 27% of deaths in 2004. (Division of Health Statistics, Tennessee Department of Health)

Warning Signs

Chest discomfort:  Discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Includes pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

Shortness of breath: This feeling can happen before or along with chest discomfort.

Other signs:  May include cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness

Women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort just like men, but women are more likely to  experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and arms, back or jaw pain.

Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Obesity/overweight
  • Tobacco/Cigarette smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Poor/unbalanced  diet


Give Me 5

Women and Heart Disease:

Risk Factors:

Health Risk Assessment:

Diet and Obesity:




Tobacco/Cigarette Smoking:

Minorities and Heart Disease:

Other Items of Interest:


Cardiovascular diseases (CVD): Diseases affecting the heart or blood vessels.
Cardiovascular diseases include arteriosclerosis, coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, arrhythmia, heart failure, hypertension, orthostatic hypotension, shock, endocarditis, diseases of the aorta and its branches, disorders of the peripheral vascular system, and congenital heart disease.

Heart Attack: An acute event in which the heart muscle is damaged because of a lack of blood flow from the coronary arteries, typically accompanied by chest pain and other warning signs but sometimes occurring without recognized symptoms.

Heart Disease: Any affliction that impairs the structure or function of the heart (e.g., atherosclerotic and hypertensive diseases, congenital heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, and cardiomyopathies).

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD): CHD, alternatively known as coronary artery disease or ischemic heart disease, refers to a hardening and narrowing in one or more of the coronary arteries due to a build-up of plaque (i.e., atherosclerosis), potentially leading to chest-pain (i.e., angina pectoris) and/or a heart attack (i.e., myocardial infarction). Over time, CHD causes the heart muscle to weaken, which may result in heart failure, and/or an irregular heart beat (i.e., arrhythmia). CHD is the single most common cause of death among men and women in the United States, resulting in 1 in 5 of all deaths and 53% of CVD deaths in 2003.

Arteriosclerosis: Hardening and thickening of the walls of the arteries. Arteriosclerosis can occur because of fatty deposits on the inner lining of arteries (atherosclerosis), calcification of the wall of the arteries, or thickening of the muscular wall of the arteries from chronically elevated blood pressure/hypertension.

Arrhythmia: An abnormal heart rhythm.
In an arrhythmia the heartbeats may be too slow, too rapid, too irregular, or too early. Rapid arrhythmias (greater than 100 beats per minute) are called tachycardias. Slow arrhythmias (slower than 60 beats per minute) are called bradycardias. Irregular heart rhythms are called fibrillations (as in atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation). When a single heartbeat occurs earlier than normal, it is called a premature contraction.

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure: Is definned as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg -- a systolic pressure above 140 with a diastolic pressure above 90.

For Health Professionals

Standards of Care and Evidence Based Guidelines

Combined Advisory Council and Cardiac and Stroke System of Care Task Forces Meeting