Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is an extensive term used to describe a range of diseases that affect your heart or blood vessels. The variety of diseases that fall under the umbrella of cardiovascular disease include coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke. The term “cardiovascular disease” is often used interchangeably with heart disease because both terms refer to diseases of the heart or arteries. It is clear that diseases of the heart and blood vessels are serious problems. Cardiovascular disease is the number one universal killer of men and women. For example, cardiovascular disease is responsible for 40 percent of all the deaths in the United States, more than all forms of cancer combined.
While cardiovascular disease can refer to many different types of heart or blood vessel problems, it’s used most often to describe damage caused to your heart or blood vessels by atherosclerosis. This is a ailment that affects your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. Healthy arteries are flexible, strong and elastic.
Over time, however, too much pressure in your arteries can make the walls thick and stiff, sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. This procedure is called arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and atherosclerosis is the most common form of this disorder. So if atherosclerosis is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease, many may wonder what ultimately causes atherosclerosis. The causes are the same risk factors that many have heard mentioned in connection with heart disease and cardiovascular disease: An unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking. All of these are major risk factors for developing atherosclerosis and, in turn, cardiovascular disease.
Some forms of cardiovascular disease are not caused by atherosclerosis.