Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease is a group of diseases of the heart and of the blood vessel system
within the heart. Coronary heart disease, the most common form of heart disease, affects
the blood vessels (or coronary arteries) of the heart, and causes angina and heart
attacks. Angina is a pain in the chest that happens when a part of the heart does not get
enough blood. It feels like a pressing or squeezing pain, often in the chest under the
breastbone, but sometimes in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Unlike a heart
attack, angina seldom causes permanent damage to the heart. During a heart attack, you can
feel chest pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts
longer than a few minutes, or comes and goes, spreading pain to one or both arms, back,
jaw, or stomach, or cold sweats and nausea. Some women don't have these symptoms but may
have other symptoms, such as an upset stomach, burning feeling in the upper abdomen, and
lightheadedness. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or see a health care provider
right away. A heart attack can cause permanent damage to the heart and maybe even death.
Heart disease is the main cause of death for American women. Heart disease risk and death
rates are higher among Mexican Americans partly because of higher rates of obesity and
Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, not exercising, and
smoking all put women at risk for heart disease. You can help prevent heart disease by not
smoking, and by controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.
There are two types of stroke. An ischemic (iss-kee-mik) stroke happens when a
blood vessel that goes to the brain is blocked, and blood cant get to the brain. A
hemorrhagic (heh-muh-ra-jik) stroke happens when a blood vessel breaks and blood goes into
the brain. Sometimes a person can have a mini stroke, or transient ischemic
attack (TIA). A TIA is a stroke that happens when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked
for a short time and less blood reaches the brain. A stroke could cause problems that may
affect speech, language, movement, vision, balance, hearing, breathing, and swallowing. A
stroke could also cause death. Among Hispanic Americans/Latinos, the risk of stroke is 1.3
times higher at ages 35-64 than for non-Hispanics. There are other medical problems that
put you more at risk for a stroke, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease,
having already had a stroke or mini-stroke (TIA), and carotid artery disease.
To avoid heart attack and stroke, the American Heart Association advises
people to take the following steps:
- Don't smoke.
- Control your blood pressure. Ask your health care provider what a healthy number is for
you and how often you need your blood pressure checked.
- Eat healthy. Talk to your health care provider about a heart healthy diet.
- Lower your cholesterol to the right level, based on your personal risk.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your health care provider what a healthy weight is for
- Have a normal fasting blood glucose level (below 110 mg/dL). Ask your health care
provider about when you should be tested.
Health Problems in Hispanic American/Latina Women
Obesity and Overweight
Heart Disease and Stroke
Smoking and Lung Cancer
Alcoholism and Illicit Drug Use
Access to Health Care