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Cardiovascular disease is a general term encompassing meanings for various ailments of the heart and the blood vessels surrounding the heart. The terms cardiovascular disease and heart disease are used interchangeably by many people and both are acceptable forms. It can be quite serious and often require serious medical attention from a trained specialist.

Most types of cardiovascular disease deal with the hardening and clotting of arteries. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes in their most serious form. Both conditions are capable of resulting in death. While improvements have been made in cardiovascular disease treatment over the last 50 years in particular, the disease is still considered very dangerous.

In fact, cardiovascular disease accounts for the most deaths throughout the world. In the United States alone, it accounts for 40 percent of all deaths. Thus, even with improvements, the situation can still be bad for those afflicted with heart conditions. Also, despite the efforts made to find more effective treatments over the years, death rates from the disease have not been substantially impacted.

When most people think of cardiovascular disease, clogged arteries come to mind. Cholesterol gets caught along the artery walls and begins to build up over time. Eventually, it can cut the blood flow off to the heart significantly enough that it causes a heart attack. In these cases, immediate treatment should be sought. While it is possible to survive a heart attack without treatment, survival rates are much greater when treatment is immediately sought.

To help prevent certain types of cardiovascular disease, such as problems related to cholesterol, certain medications can be given. These medications help to lower the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This can prevent future heart attacks. This type of preventative treatment is a good reason to have a blood test known as a lipid profile done, which can help diagnose high cholesterol, which leads to cardiovascular disease. In some cases, for those who do not have insurance coverage to pay for the profile, community organizations may run drives for lipid profile screenings at a relatively reasonable rate, such as no more than $20 US Dollars.

Preventing heart disease without medication can be done through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Having a diet that is low in cholesterol and high in fiber and other vitamins can help. Further, getting a proper amount of exercise can strengthen the heart as well. Most heart specialists recommend both for maximum effectiveness.

What Is the Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease?

The prevalence of cardiovascular disease represents the leading cause of death worldwide. Heart disease leads in the number of deaths from these diseases, with stroke the second most common cause of mortalities. The prevalence of cardiovascular disease is greater in countries with low or moderate income residents, representing more than 80 percent of cases. Cardiovascular disease affects men and women equally.

The World Health Organization (WHO) expects the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease to increase each year, with the largest increases occurring in Southeast Asia and eastern Mediterranean countries. People with low or moderate annual incomes typically have fewer preventative resources available. They also lack access to quality medical care and early intervention, increasing the prevalence of cardiovascular disease.

Residents in these areas die younger from these diseases. The very poor are most affected, and the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in a family might lead to increased poverty. The WHO reports one third of a family’s total yearly household income might be spent treating cardiovascular disease after a heart attack or stroke.

In addition to poverty, stress increases the prevalence of cardiovascular disease throughout the world. Other factors include globalization and the aging of populations. Health organizations aim to educate people about risks and lifestyle choices that lead to these diseases. Tobacco control programs represent one way this is done.

Cardiovascular disease is defined as any illness of the heart or blood vessels leading to heart attack or stroke. Coronary heart disease affects the vessels leading to the heart, while cerebrovascular disease involves blood vessels to the brain. Peripheral arterial disease also affects vessels providing blood and oxygen to the brain. A blockage typically comes from the fatty deposits that build up inside vessel walls.

These clots might cause stroke if they rupture or block blood supply. Deep vein thrombosis creates blood clots in the legs that might travel to the heart or brain, causing heart attack or stroke. The prevalence of cardiovascular disease might also stem from rheumatic fever that damages the heart, or birth defects.

Cardiovascular disease might be prevented through diet, exercise, and avoiding tobacco. A healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, combined with daily exercise, decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke. These strategies might help keep blood pressure and cholesterol low and keep weight at a healthy level.

Once these disorders are diagnosed, they can be treated with medication to lower blood pressure or cholesterol. A daily low dose of aspirin typically thins the blood to prevent blood clots. Surgery to decrease the prevalence of cardiovascular disease includes artery bypass operations, angioplasty to clear a blocked blood vessel, and pacemakers to restore normal heart rhythm.