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Topic Index

Basic Anatomy of the Heart

Anatomy and Function of the Heart's Electrical System

Anatomy and Function of the Coronary Arteries

Anatomy and Function of the Heart Valves

Statistics

Cardiac Diagnostic Tests

Vital Signs

Cardiac Procedures

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac Conditions and Diseases

Stroke (Brain Attack)

Vascular Conditions and Diseases

Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

Glossary

The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), as defined by the American Heart Association, 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

More than 80 million 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 is the leading cause of death, and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death. Stroke is also the number one 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.

Most important to combating cardiovascular diseases as the number one cause of disability and death is early detection and early treatment.