Health Department

BCHD Mission Vision and Values

Heart Month

Burlington County Health Department wants everyone to live longer, healthier lives so they can enjoy all of life’s precious moments. The American Heart Association’s Heart Month is a great time to start focusing on your heart health and encourage your family, friends, and community to do the same.

Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death, with stroke being the third. Together 22,062 death in New Jersey in 2015.
  • Cardiovascular disease is listed as the underlying cause of death in about 1 of every 3 deaths in the US.
  • Cardiovascular disease claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease combined.
  • Approximately every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack and someone else will have a stroke.

Heart Disease, Stroke, and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Risk Factors

There are seven key health factors and behaviors that greatly decrease the risk for heart disease and stroke. They are: not-smoking, physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, and controlling your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. These seven simple steps can greatly reduce the number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.


Tobacco smoking (and second-hand smoke) is 1 of the top 3 leading risk factors for disease and contributed to about 6.2 million deaths worldwide in 2010. The chemicals in cigarette smoke damage your blood cells and blood vessels. Smoking also increases the amount of plaque that builds up in arteries.

Physical Inactivity

About one in every three U.S. adults or 30.4 percent, do not engage in leisure time physical activity. Hispanic and Non-Hispanic black adults were more likely to be inactive. Physical activity helps prevent the development of diabetes, maintains weight loss and reduces hypertensions, which are all risk factors for CVD.


As with all aspects of dieting, moderation is everything. While some fat, cholesterol, and sodium is healthy, too much of the wrong kinds make a big difference.  Avoid or reduce the amount of trans fats and saturated fats in your diet. Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and can build up in your arteries and block them. Trans fat should be limited to less than 1 gram a day and saturated fat is be kept at 1 gram.

Salt and sodium is another potentially unhealthy ingredient for the heart. Too much salt and sodium and raise blood pressure, which can cause increased pressure in blood flowing through your arteries.


28% of adults in Burlington County are obese and 37.7% were overweight in 2016. Being overweight causes the heart to have to pump a greater volume of blood with each heartbeat, which puts strain on the heart over time. Obesity can also cause the heart to beat in an abnormal rhythm (arrhythmias), which can lead to the heart stopping (cardiac arrest).


High cholesterol levels increase buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can cause them to harden. Arteries need to be flexible and unblocked to ensure that blood, oxygen, and nutrients are carried to all parts of the body, including the brain. The average adult should have no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol every day; however, those with pre-existing cholesterol problems should reduce this number to 200 milligrams.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can cause damaged and narrow arteries or an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a bulge in an artery from constant high pressure that can break and cause deadly internal-bleeding.

Blood Sugar

High blood sugar levels cause the body to stop producing insulin in the pancreas. The body needs the hormone insulin to regulate and monitor how it stores glucose and fat. It also helps take glucose in the body and turn it into energy.  Without the pancreas being able to monitor the glucose levels, a person can develop diabetes. High blood sugar levels can also cause blood vessels to harden. 

Sources: NJSHAD and County Health Rankings