Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number-one killer of Americans and a major cause of mortality in developed countries. The term cardiovascular disease includes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease (angina pectoris and myocardial infarction)
  • Stroke
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Congenital cardiovascular disorders

According to a report in 2008 from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee, coronary heart disease is responsible for about one-third of all deaths in individuals over the age of 35. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of mordibity and mortality in the elderly and in patients with systemic arterial hypertension.

There has been a decline in mortality rates over the years due to risk reduction, public awareness, smoking cessation, proper diet, and exercise. Although the annual number of CVD deaths has declined steadily in men since 1979, deaths among women are on the rise. There is still the misperception that CVD is of more concern for men than for women.

Within the broad category of CVD, coronary heart disease (angina and myocardial infarction) is the most common cause of death in this country. The American Heart Association estimates that more than one million Americans will suffer a coronary event this year-a rate of one every 30 seconds.