Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and therefore many scientists are interested in finding both ways to prevent and to treat it. It is a multifactorial disease and thus is being influenced by a variety of environmental and genetic factors and therefore it is difficult to establish the most important risk factors involved in the development of the disease. The term risk factor describes those characteristics found, in healthy individuals, to be independently related to the subsequent occurrence of cardiovascular disease and, where modifiable, to be reversible. This term includes modifiable lifestyle and biochemical and physiologic characteristics as well as non-modifiable personal characteristics such as age, sex, genetic makeup, early life influences and family history of premature cardiovascular disease. When a person develops cardiovascular disease, the modifiable risk factors continue to contribute to the progression of the disease and prognosis. Risk factors include smoking, hypertension, changes to lipid levels (e.g. raised total cholesterol), raised blood glucose, obesity, family history of premature cardiovascular disease, female hormonal status, dyslipidemia, diabetes, etc. Except for female hormonal status, no risk factor has been recognised as acting on one gender but not on the other. Yet, some risk factors have been found to have greater impact on cardiovascular disease risk in women compared to men and vice versa. Primary prevention programmes in many countries attempt to reduce mortality and morbidity due to cardiovascular disease through modifying risk factors. I am going to identify the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and I am going to look at some of the evidence suggesting that they differ between men and women. Further, I am going to investigate the success of risk factor intervention over the last decade.
The following table shows the major factors which are involved in the development of cardiovascular disease:
illustration not visible in this excerpt