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February Wellness Spotlight

Listen To Your Heart

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. In February’s wellness spotlight, we discuss heart health statistics, types of heart disease, causes, and symptoms, and risk factors for heart disease.

Heart Disease Fast Facts

  • One person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from heart disease
  • In 2020, 1 in 5 deaths were attributable to heart disease. This is equivalent to 697,000 deaths in 2020.
  • Heart disease costs the United States approximately $229 billion each year. This includes heath care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.
  • Each year, approximately 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack
    • 605,000 of these are a first heart attack
    • 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack
    • About 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent, meaning the damage is done but the person is not aware of it

 Types of Heart Disease & Symptoms


What it is



Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
  • The most common type of heart disease
  • Responsible for 382,820 deaths in 2020
  • May get blockages in coronary arteries, leading to decreased blood flow to the heart
  • Cholesterol deposits (plaque) in the heart, also called atherosclerosis
    • This reduces blood flow to the heart and other parts of the body
  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Chest pressure
  • Chest discomfort (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper belly area or back
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in the legs or arms
Heart Arrhythmias
An irregular beating pattern of the heart Often develop from other heart problems but can also happen on its own
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or near fainting
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Lightheadedness
  • Racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
Heart Failure
When the heart does not pump blood as well as it should to meet the body’s needs
  • Usually caused by CAD
  • Other reasons include:
    • Thyroid disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
    • Other conditions
  • Shortness of breath with activity or when lying down
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged mucus
  • Swelling of the abdomen
Heart Valve Disease
  • We have 4 valves in our hearts that open and close to direct the flow of blood
  • An abnormality in these valves could make it difficult for a valve to open and close properly
    • From this, blood flow could be blocked or blood can leak


  • Rheumatic fever
  • Congenital heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen feet or ankles
Pericardial Disease
  • The pericardium is the membrane that encloses the heart in the chest
  • Some common pericardial diseases include:
    • Pericarditis
    • Inflammation to the pericardium


  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Injury to the pericardium
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Discomfort when breathing or lying down
  • Chest pain, usually behind the breastbone or on the left side of the chest
  • Chest fullness
  • Lightheadedness or feeling faint
  • Swelling in the abdomen or legs
Cardiomyopathy (Heart Muscle Disease)
  • The disease of the heart muscle, or myocardium
  • When the muscle gets stretched, thickened, or stiff
  • May cause weakness of the muscle, resulting in the heart not being able to pump blood as well
  • In many cases, doctors cannot determine the exact cause
  • Genetic heart conditions
  • Reactions to certain drugs or toxins (i.e. alcohol)
  • Infection from a virus
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling short of breath during activity or rest
  • Feeling short of breath at night when trying to sleep or waking up short of breath
  • Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding, or fluttering
  • Swollen legs, ankles, or feet
Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)
  • An abnormality in the heart that develops before birth
  • One of the most common types of birth defects
  • Can lead to problems right after birth or there may not be symptoms until adulthood
  • Researchers are not sure what causes most types of CHD
  • Some are genetic
  • Rubella during pregnancy
  • Drinking alcohol or smoking during pregnancy
  • Having T1 or T2 diabetes while pregnant
  • Symptoms in children
    • Pale grey or blue skin or lips (cyanosis)
    • Swelling in the legs, belly area or areas around the eyes
    • Infants: shortness of breath during feedings, leading to poor weight gain
  • Symptoms later in childhood or adulthood
    • Easily getting short of breath during exercise or activity
    • Easily tiring during exercise or activity
    • Swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet


Always call 911 if you think you might be having a heart attack. Heart disease is easier to treat when detected early.

Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure
  • High low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. About Multiple Cause of Death, 1999–2020. CDC WONDER Online Database website. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2022. Accessed February 21, 2022.
  2. Beckerman, J. (2021, June 14). Heart Disease: Types, Causes, and Symptoms. Accessed December 28, 2022, from