Cardiovascular disease -- or heart disease -- exists in epidemic proportions across the world. Cardiovascular disease is actually an umbrella term covering a broad range of diseases that includes high blood pressure, coronary heart disease (heart attack and chest pain), heart failure, stroke, and congenital defects. Alarmingly, the simple means of controlling this disease -- maintaining a healthy diet and making appropriate lifestyle choices -- are underutilized.
The Leading Cause of Death in Industrialized Nations
According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease kills nearly 17 million people around the world each year. It is the leading cause of mortality throughout Europe, accounting for more than 4 million deaths annually. And the devastation associated with cardiovascular disease involves more than mortality alone. It is a major cause of chronic illness and physical disability, a major economic burden for both patients and healthcare systems worldwide. Heart disease respects no socioeconomic, gender, or geographic boundaries. Although risk increases with age, cardiovascular disease is occurring increasingly in younger patients, even children.
America's Leading Killer
In the United States, heart disease has been the leading underlying cause of death nearly every year since 1900. Only the flu pandemic of 1918, which took at least 500,000 American lives, exceeded heart disease as the country's number one killer.
Heart disease takes another American life every 36 seconds -- nearly 2,400 each day. Mortality from cardiovascular disease is greater than that of cancer, lower respiratory diseases, accidents, and diabetes combined.