Cardiovascular Disease

Original Editor - Rachael Lowe

Top Contributors - Evan Thomas, Oyemi Sillo and Kim Jackson


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to a group of conditions involving the heart, blood vessels, or the sequelae of poor blood supply due to a diseased vascular supply. Over 82% of the mortality burden is caused by ischaemic or coronary heart disease (IHD), stroke (both hemorrhagic and ischaemic), hypertensive heart disease or congestive heart failure (CHF). Over the past decade, CVD has become the single largest cause of death worldwide, representing nearly 30% of all deaths and about 50% of NCD deaths. In 2008, CVD caused an estimated 17 million deaths and led to 151 million DALYs (representing 10% of all DALYs in that year). Behavioural risk factors such as physical inactivity, tobacco use and unhealthy diet explain nearly 80% of the CVD burden [1] .

How Physiotherapists Can Help

Aerobic exercise increases people’s cardiac output, maximum heart rate, endurance, and arterial blood flow. It may also enhance their blood lipid profiles. For people who already have cardiovascular disease, prescribed aerobic exercise programs by physiotherapists can reduce their risk long-term. Aerobic conditioning activities such as running, rowing and walking along with resistance strength training exercises have been shown to be inversely associated with the risk of
coronary heart disease[2].



  1. Bloom, D.E., Cafiero, E.T., Jané-Llopis, E., Abrahams-Gessel, S., Bloom, L.R., Fathima, S., Feigl, A.B., Gaziano, T., Mowafi, M., Pandya, A., Prettner, K., Rosenberg, L., Seligman, B., Stein, A.Z., & Weinstein, C. (2011). The Global Economic Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases. Geneva: World Economic Forum
  2. Dr Marilyn Moffat, President of the WCPT. How physical therapists fight non-communicable disease throughout the lifespan. 2011