Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an illness that affects the heart and/or blood vessels. CVD starts as fatty plaque builds up on the inner wall of the arteries. Over time, this buildup leads to arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. As arteries become more filled with plaque, the space open for blood flow shrinks. The force of the heart pumping blood through ever smaller blood vessels raises blood pressure. The force stresses the arteries and the heart. Hardening of the arteries allows blood to clot within the arteries. If a blood clot breaks off, it could lodge within an artery. Then blood cannot flow to or from the heart. This is when a heart attack happens. If a blood clot breaks off and lodges in an artery in the brain, it causes a stroke.

CVD is the leading cause of death in every county in Kentucky and every state in the nation. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Yet, most of the risk factors for CVD can be prevented.

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