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Educational Materials for Patients

Key Definitions

  • Heart disease refers to several different types of heart conditions.
  • Coronary artery disease is a type of heart disease that occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
  • Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits, which can accumulate in your arteries.
  • Atherosclerosis is a condition that occurs when too much plaque builds up in your arteries, causing them to narrow.
  • Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the body. High levels in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s use of insulin. Insulin tells the body to remove sugar from the blood. People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin, can’t use their own insulin as well as they should, or both.
  • Obesity is excess body fat.

Know the Facts About Heart Disease

This full-color, easy-to-read handout describes the risk factors, signs and symptoms, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease.

Fact Sheets


Listen to CDC podcasts for reliable health and safety information when and where you want it.

  • A Cup of Health with CDC: Help a Hurting Heart

    National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month—October 2010

    For most medical conditions, early detection and a quick response are important for a positive outcome. That’s especially true with a sudden cardiac arrest, during which the heart abruptly stops beating effectively, resulting in loss of blood flow to the brain and other vital organs.

    Date released: 10/14/10

  • Ask CDC: Women—Be Smart About Your Heart

    Our question this week is from a woman who heard on the radio that women are just as likely to have heart disease as men. She wants to know if that’s true.

    Date released: 4/20/09

  • A Cup of Health with CDC: Listen to Your Heart

    Each year, approximately half a million Americans die from a heart attack. Robert Merritt, Branch Chief, Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, discusses the causes of heart attacks and the advancements in drug treatments and new cardiac technologies, including automated external defibrillators.

    Date released: 3/20/08

  • A Minute of Health with CDC: Listen to Your Heart

    Each year, approximately half a million Americans die from a heart attack, and this broadcast discusses common symptoms of an impending heart attack.

    Date released: 3/20/08

Other Resources

The following Web sites include government health links and resources about heart disease—