Cardiovascular disease (CVD) describes a range of diseases of the vascular (circulatory) system including:
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
This is the most common form of CVD and can present itself in several different ways including heart attacks and a condition called angina (chest pain due to obstruction of major blood vessels causing lack of oxygenated blood reaching the heart).
Strokes are caused by a sudden interruption to the blood supply of the brain, depriving the tissue of oxygen.
This can be caused by blockage of the cerebral artery, often by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of a weakened blood vessel causing bleeding within or on the surface of the brain (haemorrhagic stroke).
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
PVD is the collective term for all diseases that cause narrowing of the peripheral arteries mainly in the legs. This can lead to pain, loss of sensation and eventually death of tissue in the extremities e.g. legs and feet.
CVD develops as a result of narrowing of, and damage to, blood vessels and this can be caused by the combination of many different factors, hence CVD is often termed a “multi-factorial” disease.
Non modifiable risk factors
- Genetics e.g. family history of CVD
- Age e.g. the risk of CVD increases with increasing age.
- Sex e.g. the risk of CVD is greater in men than women.
Unfortunately these risk factors cannot be altered and are therefore termed “non modifiable”.
Modifiable risk factors
- Physical inactivity
- Diet (high in fat and low in fruit and vegetables)
- Alcohol consumption
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Obesity (especially abdominal obesity)
- Abnormal blood lipids (dyslipidaemia)
These factors are described as modifiable as they can be improved through use of medications or changes in lifestyle in order to reduce the contribution they make to the risk of CVD.