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Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease refers to the class of diseases that impair functioning of the heart and blood vessels. Over the past several decades, the incidence and prevalence of CVD has increased globally. Between 1990 and 2005, CVD mortality rates increased globally from 14.4 million to 17.5 million. Over 13.3 million of these deaths were caused by stroke (cerebrovascular disease) and heart attack (coronary heart disease) combined. In 2012, the 17.5 million deaths due to CVD made it the leading cause of noncommunicable disease mortality worldwide.3 In the United States, CVDs are the leading cause of death for both men and women, accounting for over 600,000 deaths each year.4

Correlates of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes

Cardiovascular disease is closely linked to another common chronic condition— DMII. Caused by insulin resistance or the body’s failure to produce enough insulin, DMII is currently the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.4 In 2012, 1.5 million deaths were attributed to diabetes worldwide.3 According to the CDC, about 75% of people with DMII die from CVD, specifically heart disease and stroke.5-6 Together, heart disease and stroke lead to death and disability more often than any other cause of death for those diagnosed with DMII. Further, the risk of heart disease and stroke after a DMII diagnosis is more than double compared to those with no DMII diagnosis.7

The relationship between diabetes and CVD is characterized by the interactions of several modifiable risk factors for both diseases. For instance, obesity and hypertension are modifiable risk factors for CVD, but are also associated with insulin resistance.7 Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for both CVD and DMII. Having diabetes causes elevated blood glucose, which is a risk factor for CVD in persons both with and without diabetes.8

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