j0438743Cardiovascular disease (also called heart disease) is a class of diseases that involve the heart, the blood vessels (arteries, capillaries, and veins) or both.[1]

Cardiovascular disease refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system, principally cardiac disease, vascular diseases of the brain and kidney, and peripheral arterial disease.[2] The causes of cardiovascular disease are diverse but atherosclerosis and/or hypertension are the most common. Additionally, with aging come a number of physiological and morphological changes that alter cardiovascular function and lead to subsequently increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even in healthy asymptomatic individuals.[3]

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of deaths worldwide, though since the 1970s, cardiovascular mortality rates have declined in many high-income countries.[4][5] At the same time, cardiovascular deaths and disease have increased at a fast rate in low- and middle-income countries.[6] Although cardiovascular disease usually affects older adults, the antecedents of cardiovascular disease, notably atherosclerosis, begin in early life, making primary prevention efforts necessary from childhood.[7] There is therefore increased emphasis on preventing atherosclerosis by modifying risk factors, such as healthy eating, exercise, and avoidance of smoking tobacco.