Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. CVD includes coronary artery diseases (CAD) such as angina and myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack). Other CVDs include stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, abnormal heart rhythms, congenital heart disease, valvular heart disease, carditis, aortic aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, thromboembolic disease, and venous thrombosis.
The underlying mechanisms vary depending on the disease. Coronary artery disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease involve atherosclerosis. This may be caused by high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes mellitus, lack of exercise, obesity, high blood cholesterol, poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor sleep, among others. High blood pressure is estimated to account for approximately 13% of CVD deaths, while tobacco accounts for 9%, diabetes 6%, lack of exercise 6% and obesity 5%. Rheumatic heart disease may follow untreated strep throat.
It is estimated that up to 90% of CVD may be preventable. Prevention of CVD involves improving risk factors through: healthy eating, exercise, avoidance of tobacco smoke and limiting alcohol intake. Treating risk factors, such as high blood pressure, blood lipids and diabetes is also beneficial. Treating people who have strep throat with antibiotics can decrease the risk of rheumatic heart disease. The use of aspirin in people, who are otherwise healthy, is of unclear benefit.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide except Africa. Together CVD resulted in 17.9 million deaths (32.1%) in 2015, up from 12.3 million (25.8%) in 1990. Deaths, at a given age, from CVD are more common and have been increasing in much of the developing world, while rates have declined in most of the developed world since the 1970s. Coronary artery disease and stroke account for 80% of CVD deaths in males and 75% of CVD deaths in females. Most cardiovascular disease affects older adults. In the United States 11% of people between 20 and 40 have CVD, while 37% between 40 and 60, 71% of people between 60 and 80, and 85% of people over 80 have CVD. The average age of death from coronary artery disease in the developed world is around 80 while it is around 68 in the developing world. Diagnosis of disease typically occurs seven to ten years earlier in men as compared to women.
There are many risk factors for heart diseases: age, sex, tobacco use, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, obesity, genetic predisposition and family history of cardiovascular disease, raised blood pressure (hypertension), raised blood sugar (diabetes mellitus), raised blood cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), undiagnosed celiac disease, psychosocial factors, poverty and low educational status, air pollution and poor sleep. While the individual contribution of each risk factor varies between different communities or ethnic groups the overall contribution of these risk factors is very consistent. Some of these risk factors, such as age, sex or family history/genetic predisposition, are immutable; however, many important cardiovascular risk factors are modifiable by lifestyle change, social change, drug treatment (for example prevention of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes). People with obesity are at increased risk of atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries.
Genetic factors influence the development of cardiovascular disease in men who are less than 55 years old and in women who are less than 65 years old. Cardiovascular disease in a person's parents increases their risk by 3 fold. Multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) have been found to be associated with cardiovascular disease in genetic association studies, but usually, their individual influence is small, and genetic contributions to cardiovascular disease are poorly understood.
Age is the most important risk factor in developing cardiovascular or heart diseases, with approximately a tripling of risk with each decade of life. Coronary fatty streaks can begin to form in adolescence. It is estimated that 82 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 and older. Simultaneously, the risk of stroke doubles every decade after age 55. Multiple explanations are proposed to explain why age increases the risk of cardiovascular/heart diseases. One of them relates to serum cholesterol level. In most populations, the serum total cholesterol level increases as age increases. In men, this increase levels off around age 45 to 50 years. In women, the increase continues sharply until age 60 to 65 years. Aging is also associated with changes in the mechanical and structural properties of the vascular wall, which leads to the loss of arterial elasticity and reduced arterial compliance and may subsequently lead to coronary artery disease.
Men are at greater risk of heart disease than pre-menopausal women. Once past menopause, it has been argued that a woman's risk is similar to a man's although more recent data from the WHO and UN disputes this. If a female has diabetes, she is more likely to develop heart disease than a male with diabetes. Coronary heart diseases are 2 to 5 times more common among middle-aged men than women. In a study done by the World Health Organization, sex contributes to approximately 40% of the variation in sex ratios of coronary heart disease mortality. Another study reports similar results finding that sex differences explains nearly half the risk associated with cardiovascular diseases One of the proposed explanations for sex differences in cardiovascular diseases is hormonal difference. Among women, estrogen is the predominant sex hormone. Estrogen may have protective effects on glucose metabolism and hemostatic system, and may have direct effect in improving endothelial cell function. The production of estrogen decreases after menopause, and this may change the female lipid metabolism toward a more atherogenic form by decreasing the HDL cholesterol level while increasing LDL and total cholesterol levels. Among men and women, there are differences in body weight, height, body fat distribution, heart rate, stroke volume, and arterial compliance. In the very elderly, age-related large artery pulsatility and stiffness is more pronounced among women than men. This may be caused by the women's smaller body size and arterial dimensions which are independent of menopause.2a7069d7329fbe58902fc5228cdecbae26f71ba3