Cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and blood vessels) have killed nearly 18 million people worldwide. This group of diseases includes:
- coronary heart disease – includes heart attack, heart failure, angina (reduced blood flow to the heart causing chest pain), hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiomyopathy (enlarged or thickened heart muscle), damaged heart valves
- ischaemic heart disease – caused by atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty deposits in the walls of arteries)
- heart arrythmias – irregular, slow or fast heartbeat caused by a disruption to the electrical system of the heart
- cerebrovascular disease – such as stroke and disorders affecting the blood vessels to the brain
- peripheral arterial disease – arteries in the arms and legs are affected, commonly caused by atherosclerosis (build up of fatty deposits in the walls of arteries) or abdominal aortic aneurysm (abnormal widening of bulging of the main artery from the heart)
- rheumatic heart disease – an autoimmune response to a respiratory infection causing permanent damage to the heart and valves
- congenital heart disease – defects of the heart or valves present at birth
- deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – a clot in a vein becomes detached and moves to the heart and lungs.
Reducing the impact of cardiovascular disease
Researchers are identifying and gaining insights into how to minimise the burden of cardiovascular disease. Researchers are investigating genetic and molecular pathways, developing diagnostic markers and predictors and developing innovative cardiovascular medical devices and new drugs. The field is currently advancing toward next generation cardiovascular disease treatment and therapies.
Image caption: Cardiovascular – Imaris (cell imaging software) snapshot.
Image credit: Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute