What Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is a leading killer of both men and women in the U.S. About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With so much at stake, there’s no better time than now to be aware of the warning signs of heart disease and start reducing your risk.

Heart disease refers to a number of conditions that affect the heart. This includes diseases of the blood vessels or arteries, heart defects that you’re born with, and heart rhythm problems, among others.

 People with heart disease are at risk of both sudden cardiac arrest and heart attacks. During sudden cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating abruptly and blood stops flowing to the brain and other organs. Heart attacks occur when blood flow to the heart is blocked.

Sudden cardiac arrest may occur after a heart attack, and most people who experience sudden cardiac arrest die within a few minutes without resuscitation from CPR or a defibrillator. Most sudden cardiac deaths occur in men.