Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease

Take the Chester County Hospital Heart Risk Assessment today by clicking here.

What are cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) or heart disease are conditions that effect the heart and blood vessels such as angina, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease, congenital heart disease and others. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease in the U.S. and in Chester County. Cerebrovascular disease describes conditions that affect the blood flow to the brain. The most common cerebrovascular disease is stroke. Common CVDs, such as coronary heart disease can significantly increase your risk for cerebrovascular diseases, especially stroke. Visit the American Heart Association and American Association of Neurological Surgeons to learn about other types of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.

CVD is the leading cause of death among adults in Chester County in white lettering on blue back

What increases my risk for these conditions?

  • Unhealthy blood cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Insulin resistance/diabetes
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Older age
  • Family history of early heart disease
While some of these factors cannot be controlled, there are lifestyle choices that you can make to lower your risk for CVD and cerebrovascular disease. 


Remember Your ABCS

  • Appropriate Aspirin Therapy- Aspirin may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease in some individuals. Talk to your doctor about whether or not daily aspirin therapy may help you.
  • Blood Pressure Control- Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Control high blood pressure by eating a healthy diet, increasing physical activity, and/or taking certain medications prescribed by your doctor.
  • Cholesterol Management- Get your cholesterol checked regularly. Improve unhealthy cholesterol levels through healthy eating and increasing physical activity.
  • Smoking Cessation- If you smoke, quit. For smoking cessation classes in Chester County, visit the Health Department website or contact the PA Free Quitline 24/7 at 800-784-8669.

Talk to your Health Care Professional

  • Get regular checkups to stay aware of your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Tell your doctor if you have a family history of early heart disease.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about medications you take.

Eat Healthy for Your Heart

  • Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Check nutrition labels and choose foods low in sodium (salt), saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Cook more meals at home. Find healthy recipes and more from the American Heart Association.
  • Limit alcohol. Excessive drinking may cause high blood pressure.

Get Moving

  • Get 30 minutes of physical activity several days a week.
  • Make physical activity part of your daily routine. Examples include taking the stairs, walking the dog, or going on a bike ride with your family.

Use My Life Check to learn how you are doing with heart health. You’ll also learn steps you can take to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Stroke and Heart Attack

A heart attack happens when part of the heart does not receive enough blood. This usually occurs due to a clot in a blood vessel. The affected part of the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen and becomes damaged or dies.

A stroke usually happens when the brain does not receive enough blood. This usually occurs due to a clot in a blood vessel. A stroke can also result when a blood vessel inside the brain bursts. Brain cells do not receive enough oxygen and become damaged or die.

Conditions, such as heart attack and stroke, can happen suddenly and are serious medical emergencies.  


Heart Attack

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Upper body discomfort (arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw, upper stomach)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Unusually tired for no reason, sometimes for days (especially in women)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Light-headed or sudden dizziness

If you or someone you are with experiences any heart attack symptoms, dial 9-1-1 immediately.

Symptoms vary person to person. Some individuals experience few symptoms. Some experience no symptoms at all. Visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for more information on symptoms of a heart attack.

Heart attack signs and symptoms for men and women


  • Sudden weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the face, arm or leg
  • Confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden and severe headache 
If you or someone you are with experiences any stroke symptoms, dial 9-1-1 immediately.

Acting F.A.S.T. is key to stroke survival (assess face, arms, speech and act swiftly)

Resources and Services