Chapter 67

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and a significant public health problem in most industrialized nations. Since 1900, it has been the leading cause of death in the United States every year except 1918.1 In 2005, CVD afflicted 80 million Americans and caused 864,500 deaths. Meanwhile, the number of people with CVD, and especially its advanced forms, has been increasing. There are two main reasons for this. First, although there is still no cure for CVD, palliative therapy has improved to the point that more people are surviving past their initial episodes of CVD to live on with some form of the disease. Second, the average age of the US population is rising as the “baby boom” generation ages.

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