Cardiovascular disease is a generic term relating to diseases that affect the circulatory system and/or blood vessels.
The diseases involve the risk of people being affected by blood clotting in an artery or vein. If a blood clot is formed on the arterial side, it can lead to acute hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the body tissues). A person suffering from this experiences severe intense pain, swelling, redness, and/or neurological deficits, depending on which vessels are affected.
Heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and strokes are caused by blood clots in the arteries. The underlying cause is often found to be atherosclerotic plaque. Atherosclerotic plaque slowly builds up inside the arteries over many years.
Examples of risk factors for atherosclerosis are smoking, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Blood clots on the vein side can form in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism).
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world. In 2014, 17.3 million people died due to cardiovascular disease, a figure that is expected to increase to 23.6 million by 2030.1
Even in Sweden cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. In 2014, approximately 1.4 million people were affected in some way.2 The most common cardiovascular diseases are heart attacks and strokes.
- 2015 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – At a glance, American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.