What is CVD?
Cardiovascular disease is a broad term encompassing a range of diseases that affect an individual’s heart or blood vessels. The two most common types of cardiovascular disease are heart attacks and strokes, caused by impairment of circulation to the heart and brain. Healthy arteries are strong, elastic structures that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other vital organs. However, these arteries may be damaged, leading to the accumulation of fatty deposits (“atherosclerotic plaque”) and arterial hardening. When arteries are damaged to the extent that blood can no longer easily flow through them, patients experience heart attacks and strokes.
Treatment of certain risk factors can greatly reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. These risk factors include high blood pressure (“hypertension”), tobacco use, elevated cholesterol levels, abdominal obesity, and elevated blood sugar (“diabetes”). In many cases, basic interventions such as aspirin, exercise, and modest changes in diet can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and possibly prevent a cardiovascular disease episode altogether.