Cardiovascular disease is a broad term used to describe the many different conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. This report looks at 3 of the most common forms of CVD.

Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease, or ischaemic heart disease, is the most common CVD, which has 2 main clinical forms—heart attack and angina.

Heart attack occurs when a blood vessel supplying the heart is suddenly blocked, leading to damage of the heart muscle, and compromising its functions.

Angina is chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Unstable angina is an accelerating pattern of chest discomfort, and is the more dangerous form.


Stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain either suddenly becomes blocked (known as an ischaemic stroke), or ruptures and begins to bleed (known as a haemorrhagic stroke).

Heart failure and cardiomyopathy

Heart failure refers to the heart functioning less effectively in pumping blood around the body. It can occur suddenly, but usually develops slowly, as the heart gradually becomes weaker and works less effectively.

It can result from various diseases and conditions that impair or overload the heart, notably heart attack, high blood pressure, a damaged heart valve, or primary heart muscle weakness – known as cardiomyopathy.