Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. They include:
coronary heart disease – a disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle;
cerebrovascular disease – a disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain;
peripheral arterial disease – a disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs;
rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria;
congenital heart disease – birth defects that affect the normal development and functioning of the heart caused by malformations of the heart structure from birth; and
deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.
Heart attacks and strokes are usually acute events and are mainly caused by a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the heart or brain. The most common reason for this is a build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels that supply the heart or brain. Strokes can be caused by bleeding from a blood vessel in the brain or from blood clots.
The most important behavioural risk factors of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. The effects of behavioural risk factors may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, raised blood glucose, raised blood lipids, and overweight and obesity. These “intermediate risks factors” can be measured in primary care facilities and indicate an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other complications.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally.
An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke.
Over three quarters of CVD deaths take place in low- and middle-income countries.
Out of the 17 million premature deaths (under the age of 70) due to noncommunicable diseases in 2019, 38% were caused by CVDs.
Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioural risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.
It is important to detect cardiovascular disease as early as possible so that management with counselling and medicines can begin.
- 11 Nov, 2022
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