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Understanding Cardiovascular Disease

Heart and vascular disease (cardiovascular disease or CVD) is a complex disorder involving the heart and blood vessels. An estimated 62 million people in the United States have some form of CVD. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a form of CVD and also causes both heart attacks and strokes, two of the major causes of death in the United States.

Many conditions are associated with CVD, including atherosclerosis (‘hardening of the arteries’), high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), obesity and diabetes.

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to all of these disorders include smoking, poor diet and being sedentary (not getting enough physical activity). Family history can be a significant risk factor as well.

Early diagnosis, treatment and making any necessary lifestyle changes are the keys to beating CVD, or at least minimizing cardiovascular disease risk and living a longer and healthier life. Learn basic cardiovascular facts and about CVD symptoms and more in our Health Encyclopedia:

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

How do the heart and blood vessels change as we age?

Why is heart disease so dangerous for women?

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

What are the symptoms of stroke?

What is hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)?

What does arterial plaque look like?

What is atherosclerosis of the extremities?

What is angina?

Preventing heart disease

What are the recommended dietary guidelines for a healthy heart?

How does exercise help prevent heart disease?

What are the health risks of smoking and using tobacco products?