heart disease


Written By: Ehsan Jahandarpour

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. Common CVDs include: ischemic heart disease (IHD), stroke, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease (RHD), aortic aneurysms, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, congenital heart disease, endocarditis, and peripheral artery disease (PAD), among others. The underlying mechanisms varies depending on the disease in question. IHD, stroke, and PAD involve atherosclerosis. This may be caused by high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, lack of exercise, obesity, high blood cholesterol, poor diet, and excessive alcohol, among others. High blood pressure results in 13% of CVD deaths, while tobacco results in 9%, diabetes 6%, lack of exercise 6% and obesity 5%. Others such as RHD may follow untreated streptococcal infections of the throat. It is estimated that 90% of CVD is preventable. Prevention of atherosclerosis is by decreasing risk factors through: healthy eating, exercise, avoidance of tobacco smoke and limiting alcohol intake. Treating high blood pressure and diabetes is also beneficial. Treating people who have strep throat with antibiotics can decrease the risk of RHD. The effect of the use of aspirin in people who are otherwise healthy is of unclear benefit. The USPSTF recommends against its use for prevention in women less than 55 and men less than 45 years old; however, in those who are older it is recommends in some individuals. Treatment of those who have CVD improves outcomes. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally. This is true in all areas of the world except Africa. Together they resulted in 17.3 million deaths (31.5%) in 2013 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. IHD 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 IHD in the developed world is around 80 while it is around 68 in the developing world. Disease onset is typically seven to ten years earlier in men as compared to women.