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Is cardiovascular disease the same as heart disease or coronary heart disease?

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 21, 2019.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Cardiovascular disease, heart disease and coronary heart disease (coronary artery disease) all sound similar and are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are differences in what each term covers.

Cardiovascular disease, is an umbrella term covering diseases of both the heart (cardio) and blood vessels (vascular) in the body. Heart disease and coronary heart disease are cardiovascular diseases, but so are other diseases affecting blood vessels such as high blood pressure and peripheral artery disease.

Heart disease is another broad term used to describe a range of disorders affecting your heart. It includes diseases of the blood vessels associated with the heart, such as coronary heart disease, but it also includes disorders such as an abnormal heart rate or rhythm (heart arrhythmia), and defects in the structure of the heart that some people are born with (congenital heart disease).

Coronary heart disease, is a condition that develops when the major blood vessels (coronary arteries) supplying the heart with oxygen, blood and nutrients are damaged or diseased. Inflammation and cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) are usually to blame for coronary heart disease. Confusingly, the term heart disease is often used when referring specifically to coronary heart disease.

An important thing to remember is that all heart diseases are cardiovascular diseases, but some cardiovascular diseases are not heart diseases.

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