Find over 200 print-friendly fact sheets about heart disease and related health topics.
Do you know your risk for heart disease? Learn what increases our cardiovascular risk and how we can reduce or control risk factors that we may have.
What do my blood pressure numbers mean?
Your blood pressure reading has two parts. The top number (systolic) represents the pressure of the blood against your arteries when your heart contracts. The lower number (diastolic) is the pressure between beats when your heart muscle relaxes. Both numbers are important. Your doctor or nurse can check your blood pressure during an office visit. You can also measure your blood pressure yourself with a home device. Keep in mind that your blood pressure will rise and fall depending on the time of the day and how active you are. It is more accurate to look at overall trends rather than a single number.
Blood pressure is directly associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease. Ideal blood pressure is below 120/80. Your risk goes up proportionally as your blood pressure rises above that level. If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor will recommend that you make changes to your diet and exercise habits. You may also need to take blood pressure lowering medicines.
Systolic (mm Hg)
Diastolic (mm Hg)
less than 120
less than 80
160 or higher
100 or higher
What causes sudden cardiac death?
What complications are smokers most at risk for following surgery?
What foods are highest in omega-3 fatty acids?
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are foods containing the most omega-3 fatty acids, followed by certain fish, fish oils and nuts. Certain plants and spices are also high in omega-3 fatty acid, such as fresh basil, dried oregano and grape leaves.
What foods should I avoid when trying to limit sodium intake?
What foods high in flavanol?
What does the dietary portfolio consist of?
What else can I do to control my blood pressure?
Making dietary changes to reduce sodium intake is a big part of blood pressure control. But, there are other things you can do to help lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health. Here are a few:
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
What are the warning signs of PAD?
The first inkling that you have PAD is often a painful cramp in the calf or thigh that occurs repeatedly when you walk, but disappears when you’re at rest. This symptom is known as intermittent claudication. People with PAD often curtail their activity to avoid further pain. However, inactivity only worsens the condition, creating a downward spiral.
As PAD becomes more advanced, other symptoms may develop including:
What causes peripartum cardiomyopathy?
Most of the sodium you get each day comes from processed foods rather than salt you use in cooking and at the table. Here are some tips to help you shake the sodium out of your diet:
Why are most heart attacks during pregnancy caused by coronary dissection?
Why are female smokers at greater risk for heart disease than men?
Why do low-income neighborhoods have poorer health than the rest of the nation?
Why does depression increase risk for stroke?
Why can increased weight increase risk for death?
Why could living alone have a negative impact on health?
Why do children need 60 minutes of physical activity a day for good health?
Who is at highest risk for AF?
Adults with heart disease, cardiovascular conditions or history of heart attack are at greatest risk for AF. Other common risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease and metabolic syndrome. Risk for AF also increases with age.
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