Cardiovascular disease or heart disease are a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels (arteries and veins). While the term technically refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system (as used in MeSH C14), it is usually used to refer to those related to atherosclerosis (arterial disease). These conditions usually have similar causes, mechanisms, and treatments.
Cardiovascular diseases remain the biggest cause of deaths worldwide, though over the last two decades, cardiovascular mortality rates have declined in many high-income countries but have increased at an astonishingly fast rate in low- and middle-income countries. The percentage of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease range from 4% in high-income countries to 42% in low-income countries. More than 17 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2008. Each year, heart disease kills more Americans than cancer. In recent years, cardiovascular risk in women has been increasing and has killed more women than breast cancer. (PDAY) showed vascular injury accumulates from adolescence, making primary prevention efforts necessary from childhood.
By the time that heart problems are detected, the underlying cause (atherosclerosis) is usually quite advanced, having progressed for decades. There is therefore increased emphasis on preventing atherosclerosis by modifying risk factors, such as healthy eating, exercise, and avoidance of smoking.