What is CVD?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) technically refers to diseases of the entire cardiovascular system (arteries and veins) but is usually thought of as diseases of the heart and the arteries of the body. The most common forms of cardiovascular disease include heart attack and stroke. However, the clinical complications associated with heart attacks and strokes including heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms, as well as predisposing factors of cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity and smoking are all considered part of the cardiovascular disease process.
Cardiovascular disease continues to increase burden of many Americans. In fact, each year cardiovascular disease kills more Americans than cancer; and, in more recent times has actually surpassed breast cancer as the most common form of death in women. Unfortunately, the process that precedes heart attacks, strokes and death tends to be silent until it has progressed to a point of a very advanced state. Therefore, it is extremely important that everyone pay careful attention to the overall risk factors of atherosclerosis. The good news is that many of the risk factors can be avoided and or treated. For instance, obesity has become a societal burden of epidemic proportion and is the most visible of modifiable risk factors. Also tobacco use, lack of exercise, lack of healthy diet are risk factors that should be relatively easy to overcome. Other risk factors such as aging, sex, genetic influence or not modifiable. Genetics however can be a valuable resource in assessment of oneʼs overall health risks and development of a highly individualized program of health and wellness.