Heart Healthiness: Are you at risk for Cardiovascular Disease?

Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill over 800,000 Americans each year, accounting for one in every three deaths. It’s the nation’s number one killer among both men and women and the leading cause of health disparities across the population.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease can refer to several conditions including heart disease, peripheral artery disease and stroke. Symptoms of cardiovascular disease can include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, pain or numbness in your legs or arms, and pain in the back, upper abdomen, throat, jaw or neck.


Symptoms of cardiovascular disease may be different for women and men

  • Men are more likely to have chest pain
  • Women are more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue, in addition to chest discomfort


Atherosclerosis, or the building up plaque in your arteries, is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis can be caused by unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking.

Risk factors for heart disease include age, sex (men are generally at greater risk), family history, smoking, poor diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity and stress.

Healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent and treat many forms of heart disease

  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week
  • Eat a healthy diet, low in salt and saturated fat
  • Take steps to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
  • Manage stress
  • Maintain a healthy weight


If you are taking medication for cardiovascular disease, be sure to take your medications on time and as directed. Seek emergency medical care if you are experiencing these symptoms of heart disease: chest pain, shortness of breath and fainting.


According to self-reported data from the 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System:

  • Percent of adults that engaged in any physical activity in the last 30 days
    • New York state: 64%
    • Upstate New York: 65%
    • Western New York: 65%
    • Finger Lakes: 67%
    • Central New York: 69%
    • Southern Tier: 62%
    • Utica/Rome/North Country: 64%


  • Percent of adults that have ever been told by a doctor that they have high blood pressure:
    • New York state: 29%
    • Upstate New York: 34%
    • Western New York: 37%
    • Finger Lakes: 32%
    • Central New York: 29%
    • Southern Tier: 34%
    • Utica/Rome/North Country: 33%


  • Percent of adults that are classified as overweight or obese:
    • New York state: 61%
    • Upstate New York: 65%
    • Western New York: 67%
    • Finger Lakes: 63%
    • Central New York: 64%
    • Southern Tier: 67%
    • Utica/Rome/North Country: 67%