Heart Disease & Stroke

Cardiovascular Disease

Controllable Risk Factors

  • cigarette smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • obesity
  • lack of exercise
  • high blood cholesterol levels
  • uncontrolled diabetes
  • high fat diet
  • high stress

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

  • race
  • heredity
  • sex
  • age

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States. The Center for Disease Control reports that in the United States over 650,000 people die each year from cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease causes damage to the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease often leads to heart attack or stroke. The best way to survive a heart attack or stroke is to never have one. The key for cardiovascular disease is to focus on prevention.

You can give yourself the best chance of preventing cardiovascular disease with proper nutrition, consistent physical activity, weight management, stress management, eating proper fats and oils, and quitting smoking.

Heart Attack

Signs and Symptoms may include

  • Chest discomfort-pressure, tightness, that may radiate to jaw and arms.
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Denial
  • Feeling of weakness

Women present more with shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, or flu-like symptoms About a third of women experience no chest pain.


Recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, activate EMS, have patient remain in a position of comfort, offer 1 adult dose aspirin, and keep the patient calm and quiet.


Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. Strokes can be one of two types: ischemic– a clot in a blood vessel that restricts or obstructs blood flow to the brain; hemorrhagic- a blood vessel that ruptures and prevents blood flow to the brain. In either case, the brain is deprived of oxygen and tissue starts to die. The longer the stroke goes unrecognized and untreated, the more damage is done.

Signs and Symptoms may include

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body. The acronym FAST helps in assessing a stroke: F– facial droop, A– Arm drift, S– Speech, T– Time
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause


Recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke, activate EMS, give nothing to drink or eat, and keep the patient calm and quiet. Monitor patient and be prepared to start CPR if necessary.