Heart Disease

Heart disease refers to many different heart conditions, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, and heart failure. You can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medicine. In Idaho, heart disease is the leading cause of death.

About Heart Disease in Idaho

Many risk factors contribute to heart disease including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, tobacco use, and diabetes. In 2021, 49,703 Idaho adults self-reported they have angina or heart disease. Of residents who reported angina or heart disease, 34.1% reported they have diabetes; 73.9% reported they have high blood pressure; and, 65.5% reported they have high cholesterol.

Middle-aged man with blood pressure monitor on his left arm
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Idaho
Idaho residents died from heart disease
Idaho residents died from a stroke

Heart disease prevention

Lower your risk of heart disease by making healthy behavior choices.
  • Choose foods high in fiber and low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Limit salt, sugar, and alcohol.
  • Keep your weight in a healthy range.
  • Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of regular exercise.
  • Don’t smoke.
Manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar level to lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack.
  • See your healthcare provider regularly.
  • Have your cholesterol tested at least once every 4-6 years.
  • Manage your blood pressure.
  • Manage your diabetes.
  • Take your medication as your healthcare provider recommends.
  • Work together with your healthcare team, this includes doctors, pharmacists, nurses, community health workers, etc.

Visit the CDC to learn more about preventing heart disease.

High blood pressure

In 2021, 432,264 Idaho adults reported their healthcare provider told them they have high blood pressure. Of these residents, 72.8% reported they are on a blood pressure medication.

Idaho high blood pressure fact sheet


In 2021, 360,827 Idaho adults reported their healthcare provider told them they have high cholesterol. Blood cholesterol is a waxy substance that plays an important part in helping your body work the way it should. Two types of cholesterol exist, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), otherwise known as "bad" cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), otherwise known as “good” cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol or not enough HDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol can contribute to buildup of deposits on the walls of your blood vessels (arteries) – a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Only your healthcare provider can diagnose high cholesterol. High cholesterol can contribute to coronary artery disease.

Coronary artery disease

The most common heart disease is coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when there is buildup of plaque on the walls of your arteries. The buildup will cause your arteries to become too narrow or can cause a blockage. When arteries are blocked, it prevents blood flow to your body causing a heart attack or stroke.

Most people are not aware they have coronary artery disease until they have a heart attack. However, chest pain, also known as angina, is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease.

Work with your healthcare provider to find your risk of coronary artery disease by measuring your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

Heart attack

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked resulting in that part of the heart muscle not getting enough blood. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.

A heart attack is a time-sensitive emergency. Know the signs and symptoms. Every minute counts. Call 9-1-1 right away. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest.
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, or arms.
  • Shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, or nausea, with or without chest discomfort.
Idaho adults reported ever having a heart attack
Idaho adults reported ever having a stroke


Heart disease and COVID-19

Serious heart conditions, including heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and pulmonary hypertension, may put people at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19. Serious complications can lead to hospitalization, being put on a machine to help with breathing (ventilator), or death. Like other viral illnesses, COVID-19 can damage the respiratory system and make it harder for your heart to work. For people with heart failure and other serious heart conditions, this can lead to a worsening of COVID-19 symptoms.

Visit the American Heart Association to learn more about heart disease and COVID-19.

What information is available on pericarditis, myocarditis, and mRNA vaccines?

Stroke is a time-sensitive emergency. Know the signs and symptoms. Every minute counts. Call 9-1-1 right away.

Idaho stroke fact sheet

Visit the Idaho Stroke website for more information about stroke, rehabilitation, and recovery.

Additional resources

Internal resource
The BP Toolkit provides evidence-based instructions and valuable education on blood pressure measurement for clinical providers at all levels.
Internal resource
Are you ready to quit tobacco?
External resource
A heart-healthy lifestyle starts with healthy food choices.
External resource
For nearly 100 years, the American Heart Association have been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives.
External resource
High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for Americans.
External resource
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Contact Us
Idaho Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) Program