Cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke are responsible for 16.7 million, or 29.9% of total global deaths associated with some type of disease, according to the World Health Organization. Of the 16.7 million deaths, 7.2 million are due to ischaemic heart disease, 5.5 million to cerebrovascular disease, and an additional 3.9 million to hypertensive and other heart conditions. By 2010, CVD will be the leading cause of death in developing countries. At least 20 million people survive heart attacks and strokes every year; many require continuing costly clinical care.
Cardiovascular disease includes a number of conditions affecting the structures or function of the heart. They include:
- Coronary (or ischaemic) heart disease (heart attack)
- Cerebrovascular disease (stroke)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart failure
- Heart valve disease
- Rheumatic heart disease
According to WHO, many CVD deaths are preventable by taking early action on the major primary risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking. Additional preventative methods to prevent heart attack is to determine the level of risk of the CVD patient during regular annual check-ups or during times of patient distress that include diagnostic testing to assess patient risk factors. Traditional risk factor tests, such as glucose, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, provide cardiologists with the means to determine a prognosis and implement preventative care regimens. Despite current diagnostic tests to assess heart disease or stroke risk, millions die each year from fatal heart attacks, many of which were preventable with more predictive testing methods. Of the 500,000 reported heart attack deaths in the United States in 2009, 50% tested normal for cholesterol levels, recognized as a gold standard for heart risk. In the U.S. alone, $506 B is spent annually on heart disease, including physician visits, treatment, drugs, diagnostics, hospitalization and surgeries. Approximately $1.36 B of this total represents spending on diagnostic testing.
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