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Skip Navigation LinksPennsylvania Department of Health > My Health > A-Z Health Topics > E-H > HEART DISEASE AND STROKE > Heart Disease Sub Page

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is one of several cardiovascular diseases, which are diseases of the heart and blood vessel system. The main form of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to heart attack. A heart attack happens when an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart.[1]
What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Warning signs of heart disease include:
  • chest discomfort;
  • discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach;
  • shortness of breath;
  • extreme fatigue;
  • indigestion or heartburn; and
  • nausea or vomiting. 
In some cases, no noticeable warning signs will be present.

What are the Risk Factors?

Heart disease is primarily a disease of lifestyle and can be prevented by modifying behaviors. These behaviors are known as risk factors. You cannot change certain risk factors, such as age, race, gender or family history. However, you can change the following:
  • tobacco use;
  • obesity;
  • physical inactivity;
  • unhealthy diet;
  • high blood pressure; and
  • high blood cholesterol.
For more information and tools on heart disease, its associated risk factors and how to control your risk, visit the following:
[1] Definition from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

[1] Definition from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute