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Heart Disease

The Heart Disease and Diabetes Prevention program oversees federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Funding allows contractors to work on proven strategies in heart disease care across the state. Work is being done in three main areas: 

  1. Improving access to care.
  2. Connecting more people to heart disease prevention and self-management programs.
  3. Promoting healthy behaviors. 

The term heart disease is an umbrella term.  It refers to many conditions that affect the heart.  The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease.  This is where blood flow to the heart is restricted.  When blood cannot get to the heart, it can cause a heart attack.

Many people living with heart disease do not have any signs or symptoms.  The first sign may be when having a heart attack.  It is important to see a primary care physician on a regular basis to manage risk for heart disease.  Following a healthy lifestyle can also reduce risk for heart disease.

There are many factors that can lead to heart disease.

  • Have family history of heart disease
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Are a tobacco user or former tobacco user
  • Have diabetes
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Follow an unhealthy diet
  • Are physically inactive

  • In 2020, heart disease was the leading cause of death in Oklahoma.  One out of every four deaths were from heart disease.1
  • The risk of dying from heart disease increases with age. 
  • Men are more likely to die from heart disease than women.
  • African Americans and American Indians are more likely to die from heart disease than any other race.
  • Only about one in four adults with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
  • Heart Disease Death Rates

Blood pressure is a number that goes up and down through the day. It measures the pressure of blood against the artery walls.  Arteries are what carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Blood pressure readings have 2 numbers. The first number is systolic blood pressure. That measures the pressure in arteries when the heart beats. The second number is diastolic blood pressure. That measure the pressure in arteries between heart beats. Normal blood pressure readings should be 120 systolic over 80 diastolic (120/80 mmHg) or lower. 

Hypertension, or high blood pressure is when blood pressure is higher than normal. If blood pressure numbers stay high it can lead to serious health problems. People living with blood pressure readings over 130/80 mmHg should see a health care provider.

Self-Measured Blood Pressure Monitoring

People living with high blood pressure should participate in a Self-Measured Blood Pressure (SMBP) monitoring program.  Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or insurance company about SMBP programs near you. For more information on SMBP click here.

People living with high blood pressure should make healthy lifestyle changes. Blood pressure lowering medication may also be needed.

Blood cholesterol comes from the body.  It is a waxy, fat-like substance in the blood.  The liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs.  Blood cholesterol helps regulate hormones and digest high fat foods.  Some factors can cause the body to make too much cholesterol. 

Dietary cholesterol comes from food.  Foods that come from animals have dietary cholesterol.  Dietary cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol.2

LDL Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol

LDL = Low Density Lipoproteins

HDL = High Density Lipoproteins

Known as “bad” cholesterol

Known as “good” cholesterol

Regulates hormones and digests fat.

Absorbs LDL cholesterol and returns to liver.

Too much can cause plaque buildup in blood vessels, blocking blood flow.

Not enough can cause too much LDL cholesterol to stay in bloodstream.

Eating too much saturated fat can cause high levels of LDL cholesterol.

Physical activity can help increase HDL cholesterol levels.

Saturated fat comes from animal products (red meats, full fat dairy).

Smoking can lower HDL levels.  Try to quit smoking, avoid secondhand smoke.

There are two types of blood cholesterol.  Low density lipoproteins (LDL) are the bad type.  High density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good type. 

Too much of the bad, LDL cholesterol, can cause health problems.  Plaque is a buildup of bad cholesterol that forms on the walls of blood vessels.  If too much plaque forms, it can block all blood flow.  Blocked blood flow to the heart can cause a heart attack.  Blocked blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke.

Good, HDL cholesterol, can help lower risk for heart disease. It helps remove the bad cholesterol from the bloodstream. This is the one cholesterol number that should be high.

High cholesterol, is also known as hyperlipidemia.  It can also be called dyslipidemia.  This is when total or LDL cholesterol levels are higher than normal.  Having HDL cholesterol levels lower than normal is also concerning.  People living with cholesterol levels outside of the heart-healthy range should see a health care provider regularly.  

People living with high cholesterol should make healthy lifestyle changes. Cholesterol lowering medication may also be needed.

People taking multiple medications can benefit from medication therapy management (MTM).  MTM is done by a pharmacist.  It looks at all medications.  This makes sure medications are appropriate and will get the best results.  MTM can be very beneficial for people living with heart disease.  For more information on medication therapy management click here.

A stroke is a time-sensitive, medical emergency.  Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is blocked.  This can be caused by a blocked blood vessel (ischemic stroke).  This can also be caused by a burst blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). 

Time lost is brain lost.  Every minute counts.  At the first signs of stroke, call 9-1-1. Getting treatment fast is the best way to minimize lasting disability or death from stroke.

How to Recognize A Stroke

Stroke is a leading cause of serious disability in the United States.  In 2020, stroke was the 6th leading cause of death in Oklahoma.  One out of every 24 deaths were from stroke.  

Strokes can be prevented.  It is important to follow a healthy lifestyle.  Managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar levels will reduce risk.  Not smoking or using tobacco products can reduce risk also.  

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
The Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave., Suite 1702
Oklahoma City, OK  73102-6406

Physical Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
The Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK

Phone: (405) 426-8300
Fax: (405) 900-7610