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Tobacco and Cardiovascular Disease

Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

Diet and Cardiovascular Disease


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A Program Plan to Develop Heart Disease in West Virginia was developed as a resource to help improve the cardiovascular health of West Virginians. Preventing CVD and improving the health of our residents will take a sustained, concerted effort of individuals and communities on the part of us all.

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This document will enable
communities to develop plans
and strategies that will address
CVD risk factors.

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QuestionWhat is cardiovascular disease?

AnswerThe cardiovascular system is made up of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is defined as any serious, abnormal condition of the heart or blood vessels(arteries, veins). Cardiovascular disease includes coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, peripheral vascular disease, congenital heart disease, endocarditis, and many other conditions. Many cardiovascular diseases are preventable.

QuestionWhat are the risk factors for CVD?

AnswerRisk factors are variables that predict who is most likely to develop CVD. Most of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke are modifiable or entirely preventable. By modifying risk factors, you decrease the chances of getting diseases. Modifiable risk factors include tobacco use, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol, obesity, heavy alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition. Non-modifiable risk factors are age and family history. The more risk factors one has, the higher the risk of developing disease.

This document will enable communities to develop plans and strategies that will address CVD risk factors. A Program Plan to Decrease Heart Disease in West Virginia will assist local health advocates in implementing cardiovascular prevention efforts targeting the risk factors of tobacco use, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition.

This document may also be used by local and state policy makers in supporting the reduction of cardiovascular disease. There is much more that can be done to create environments conducive to promoting good health.

Goals of the plan:

1) Raise awareness of the problem of cardiovascular disease.

2) Create an environment that supports and maintains health promotion behavior.

3) Encourage personal and public responsibility for good health (policy).

4) Stimulate community efforts to address risk factor prevalence and disease prevention.


The Number one killer in the United
States and West Virginia today
is cardiovascular disease.


Scope of the Problem:

The number one killer in the United States and West Virginia today is cardiovascular disease. In recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of deaths from CVD due to changes in personal health behaviors as well as improvements in medical technology. However, the declines in West Virginia have been substantially lower than those experienced in the nation as a whole, especially in CVD mortality. In fact, while the rate of CVD mortality declined 44% nationwide between 1960 and 1990, the decline in West Virginia was only 32%.

Despite the declines, the toll from CVD mortality is high. The 1995 state age-adjusted rate of death due to heart disease was 328.2 deaths per 100,000 population, 17% higher than the national rate of 281.2 per 100,000. Tobacco use, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and sedentary lifestyle, are modifiable risk behaviors that have been linked to cardiovascular disease.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is another risk factor for heart disease and is the single most important risk factor for stroke. Diabetes substantially increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Persons with diabetes(depending on gender) are two to four times more likely to die of coronary heart disease, and twice as likely to die of stroke, as person without diabetes. The prevalence of all these risk factors have been found to be higher in West Virginia than in the nation as a whole.

Conditions associated with CVD (high blood cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure) are also affected by sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and tobacco use. Decreasing the incidence of modifiable risk factors also decreases the risk of CVD-associated conditions (Refer to the risk factor chapters for interventions).


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Published July 1997
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