Cardiovascular Disease

CVD is a group of diseases affecting your heart and blood vessels. These diseases can affect one or many parts of your heart and/or blood vessels. A person may be symptomatic (physically experiencing the disease) or asymptomatic (not feeling anything at all).

Cardiovascular disease includes heart or blood vessel issues, including:

  • Narrowing of the blood vessels in your heart, other organs or throughout your body.
  • Heart and blood vessel problems present at birth.
  • Heart valves that aren’t working right.
  • Irregular heart rhythms.

The causes of cardiovascular disease can vary depending on the specific type. For example, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in your arteries) causes coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease. Coronary artery disease, scarring of your heart muscle, genetic problems or medications can cause arrhythmias. Aging, infections and rheumatic disease can cause valve diseases.

CVD Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia).
  • Tobacco use (including vaping).
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Family history of heart disease.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Having excess weight or obesity.
  • Diet high in sodium, sugar and fat.
  • Overuse of alcohol.
  • Misuse of prescription or recreational drugs.
  • Preeclampsia or toxemia.
  • Gestational diabetes.
  • Chronic inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.
  • Chronic kidney disease.


Treatment plans can vary depending on your symptoms and the type of cardiovascular disease you have. Cardiovascular disease treatment may include:

  • Lifestyle changes: Examples include changing your diet, increasing your aerobic activity and quitting smoking or tobacco products (including vaping).
  • Medications: Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to help manage cardiovascular disease. Medication type will depend on what kind of cardiovascular disease you have.
  • Procedures or surgeries: If medications aren’t enough, your healthcare provider may use certain procedures or surgeries to treat your cardiovascular disease. Examples include stents in your heart or leg arteries, minimally invasive heart surgery, open-heart surgery, ablations or cardioversion.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation: You may need a monitored exercise program to help your heart get stronger.
  • Active surveillance: You may need careful monitoring over time without medications or procedures/surgeries.


You can’t prevent some types of cardiovascular disease, such as congenital heart disease. But lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of many types of cardiovascular disease.

You can reduce your cardiovascular risks by:

  • Avoiding all tobacco products.
  • Managing other health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Eating a diet low in saturated fat and sodium.
  • Exercising at least 30 to 60 minutes per day on most days.
  • Reducing and managing stress.