Cardiovascular disease describes a variety of conditions including angina, heart attacks and stroke. It accounts for around one in three deaths in England and Wales. Most of these deaths are due to heart attacks but around a third are due to strokes. The underlying process of cardiovascular disease is the development of fatty deposits called atheroma in the linings of the coronary arteries supplying the heart or the arteries supplying the brain.
Happily, death rates for cardiovascular disease are falling. The explanation for this seems to be due to a combination of better and earlier treatment of heart disease. There is much we can do with effective drugs to treat hypertension – raised blood pressure and also for raised blood cholesterol. With such treatments we can slow the development of cardiovascular disease and prevent future heart disease. For patients with symptoms of cardiovascular disease there are effective treatments such as coronary angioplasty using metal coils called stents to hold the arteries open.