Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) affect your heart and blood vessels. Almost half of all adults in the U.S. have at least one form of heart disease. You may make lifestyle changes to manage cardiovascular disease or your healthcare provider may prescribe medications. The sooner you detect cardiovascular disease, the easier it is to treat.
Cardiovascular disease is a group of diseases affecting your heart and blood vessels. These diseases can affect one or many parts of your heart and/or blood vessels. A person may be symptomatic (physically experiencing the disease) or asymptomatic (not feeling anything at all).
Cardiovascular disease includes heart or blood vessel issues, including:
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and in the U.S.
Almost half of adults in the U.S. have some form of cardiovascular disease. It affects people of all ages, sexes, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels. One in three women and people assigned female at birth dies from cardiovascular disease.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
The causes of cardiovascular disease can vary depending on the specific type. For example, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in your arteries) causes coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease. Coronary artery disease, scarring of your heart muscle, genetic problems or medications can cause arrhythmias. Aging, infections and rheumatic disease can cause valve diseases.
You may be more likely to develop cardiovascular disease if you have risk factors such as:
Cardiovascular disease symptoms can vary depending on the cause. Older adults and people assigned female at birth may have more subtle symptoms. However, they can still have serious cardiovascular disease.
There are many different types of cardiovascular diseases, including but not limited to:
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms, personal health and family health history. They may also order tests to help diagnose cardiovascular disease.
Some common tests to diagnose cardiovascular disease include:
Treatment plans can vary depending on your symptoms and the type of cardiovascular disease you have. Cardiovascular disease treatment may include:
You can't prevent some types of cardiovascular disease, such as congenital heart disease. But lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of many types of cardiovascular disease.
You can reduce your cardiovascular risks by:
Many people enjoy a high quality of life and can manage their cardiovascular disease with the help of their healthcare team. Your chances for a positive outcome are higher if you engage in your healthcare and follow your provider’s treatment plan. It’s important to take medications exactly as prescribed.
Untreated cardiovascular disease can lead to serious complications.
If you have cardiovascular disease, you may have a higher risk of:
Cardiovascular disease is often easier to treat when healthcare providers catch it early. That’s why it’s important to see a primary care provider every year. They can detect cardiovascular issues before symptoms start. If you have any signs of cardiovascular disease, you should see your provider immediately.
Call 911 or seek emergency medical attention if you experience sudden:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that affect your heart and blood vessels. Without appropriate treatment, heart disease can lead to heart attacks or strokes. You can make lifestyle changes or take medications to manage cardiovascular disease. Earlier diagnosis can help with effective treatment. Many people live a full and active life with a cardiovascular disease.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/01/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.