What is the burden of cardiovascular disease? An estimated 17.5 million people die of cardiovascular diseases every year. Eighty per cent of the deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
What causes cardiovascular disease? There are many risk factors that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Some people are born with conditions that predispose them to heart disease and stroke, but most people who develop cardiovascular disease do so because of a combination of factors such as poor diet, lack of physical activity and smoking, to name just three.
The more risk factors you expose yourself to, the higher the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease cause problems because they lead to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the narrowing and thickening of arteries which develops for years without causing symptoms. It can happen in any part of the body. Around the heart, it is known as coronary artery disease, in the legs it is known as peripheral arterial disease.