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The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) include coronary heart disease (coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease), stroke (brain attack), high blood pressure (hypertension), and rheumatic heart disease.

Picture of an electrocardiogram strip

Millions of U.S. adults have one or more forms of CVD.

Each year in the U.S., cardiovascular diseases top the list of most serious health problems. Coronary heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death, and stroke is also a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.

Yet, studies show that nearly everyone can become heart healthy by following a healthy diet and participating in an appropriate exercise program; eliminating tobacco products; and following a routine health care plan.

Online Medical Reviewer: Foster, Sara, RN, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2014
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