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Cardiovascular disease is a general term for several diseases that involve the heart and/or blood vessels, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. Altogether, cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes about one in every three deaths in the United States.
It is a common misperception that heart disease is more of a concern for men than it is for women. In reality, it is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. and about the same number of men and women die of heart disease each year. Many men and women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.
Knowing whether you are at risk for heart disease is important. There are several risk factors that you can control, and some that you cannot. For example, having a family history of heart disease places you at higher risk, but you can lower your risk with diet and lifestyle changes, and prescription medications if needed.