Cardiovascular Disease is a term used to describe the many manifestations of heart and blood vessel diseases, including:

  • atherosclerosis (hardening of the inner artery walls)
  • congenital heart disease
  • coronary heart disease
  • stroke

Interesting Facts
  • Heart disease and stroke account for nearly 40% of all U.S. deaths.
  • About 70 million Americans (almost one-fourth of the population) have some form of Cardiovascular disease responsible for more than 6 million hospitalizations each year.
  • Studies show that people who have a low fitness level are much more likely to die early than people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness.
  • Smoking is the most significant controllable risk factor for heart problems. Your body benefits within minutes when you stop smoking.

Uncontrollable or Unmodifiable Risk Factors

There are several characteristics that increase a person’s chance of heart attack and coronary heart disease; these are termed Risk Factors.

Some risk factors cannot be controlled, treated, or modified. These include:

  • Male Gender (Men have a greater risk of heart disease than women)
  • Increasing Age (Four out of Five people who die from coronary heart disease are age 65 or older)
  • Family history of heart disease (Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves)
  • Race (African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to develop heart disease than Caucasians)


Controllable or Modifiable Risk Factors

Fortunately, many risk factors, such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and smoking, can and should be controlled, treated, or modified. Controllable risk factors are crucial in preventing heart disease because you can reduce them by changing your behaviors; plus, they compound each other. For example, smoking, lack of exercise, and obesity all affect cholesterol levels.

The good news is that once you start working on one risk factor, you chip away at others at the same time. The CV Wellness program provides an ideal environment in which to work on reducing your risk factors; so, review the following list of controllable or modifiable risk factors, and get to work.

Physical Inactivity


  • Being overweight or obese puts you at an increased risk for a litany of diseases and adverse health conditions, including heart disease.
  • Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) to see if you are at high risk for heart disease because of overweight or obesity.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site for Overweight and Obesity provides more helpful information.


  • Most people associate cigarette smoking with breathing problems and lung cancer. But did you know that smoking is also a major cause of heart disease?
  • About 30% of all deaths from heart disease in the United States are directly related to cigarette smoking.
  • Cigarette Smoking and Cardiovascular Diseases

High Blood Pressure

  • When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder than it should to pump blood to all parts of the body. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because most people feel healthy and don’t even know that they have it. If it is not treated, high blood pressure can cause: stroke, heart attack, kidney problems, eye problems, and death.
  • Physical Activity is a great way to control your blood pressure; even little changes in your daily routine can make a big difference.
  • The American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Web site
  • Your Guide to lowering High Blood Pressure

High Cholesterol

  • When combined with other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and overweight, cholesterol becomes a very important risk factor for Cardiovascular Disease.
  • By changing your diet, you can help lower your cholesterol, and thus, your risk of Heart Disease. The Dash Diet provides a healthy way to lower the sodium content of your diet, which can help accomplish this feat.
  • American Heart Association-About Cholesterol