Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death in both males and females in the United States, and are classified into four major forms: coronary heart disease (CHD), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), hypertensive disease (high blood pressure), and rheumatic fever/rheumatic heart disease. Over 70 million Americans (1 in 4) have one or more types of cardiovascular disease, and in 2002, 38% of all deaths in the U.S. were attributed to cardiovascular diseases, equal to 1 of every 2.6 deaths. In fact, fatalities due to cardiovascular diseases each year are about equal to the next five leading causes of death combined: cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, diabetes mellitus, and pneumonia/influenza. Based on age-adjusted statistics, cardiovascular disease targets 34.3% of male and 32.4% of female non-Hispanic whites; 41.1% of male and 44.7% of female non-Hispanic blacks; and 29.2% of male and 29.3% of female Mexican Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and National Center for Health Statistics (CDC/NCHS), if all forms of major cardiovascular diseases were eliminated, life expectancy of the U.S. population would rise by almost 7 years.
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