In This Article Cardiovascular Health and Disease

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Global Perspective
  • Concepts of Causation
  • Strategies of Prevention
  • Evidence, Recommendations, Guidelines, and Policies
  • Making the Case for Prevention
  • Action Plans
  • Research Directions

Public Health Cardiovascular Health and Disease
Darwin R. Labarthe
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0069


In the context of public health, “heart disease” represents a number of circulatory system disorders that are common and serious, and whose prevention has great potential for improving population health. “Heart disease and stroke” and “cardiovascular disease” (CVD) are terms meant to denote this group of disorders beyond “heart disease” alone. Heart disease and stroke are first- and second-leading causes of death worldwide, first and third in lost years of life, and first and fourth in disability-adjusted years of life lost. (For this bibliography, “CVD” is used for convenience, except where diseases or conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, hypertension, and others are referenced specifically.) This bibliography is intended to identify sources of information regarding CVD epidemiology and prevention, as a point of departure for research on related topics. It includes selected classic references, more recent publications, and online sources that can be accessed at any time for current updates. CVD contributes substantially to the public health burden of chronic diseases, or “noncommunicable diseases” (NCDs), comprising cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, whose aggregate burden is increasingly recognized at national and global levels. Citations addressing this broader group of major chronic diseases are inherently relevant to CVD. If not always explicitly so, and they are represented here, though very selectively. Discussion of CVD from a public health perspective includes consideration of how scientific evidence is evaluated as a basis for policy, and how policy once developed serves as a basis for action. The citations addressed here, in sequence, document the importance of CVD for global health; describe the major cardiovascular disorders and patterns in their occurrence; present epidemiologic evidence regarding their main determinants; discuss concepts of causation, prevention, clinical guidelines, and public health policy and practice; and point to research directions for the future. (It should be noted that social and cultural factors in causation and prevention of CVD are addressed in multiple selections throughout this article [due to their intersection with virtually every topic], rather than as a separate topic of its own; this is especially true of selections in the General Overviews and Global Perspective sections).

General Overviews

A comprehensive, single-author, public health overview of cardiovascular disease (CVD) epidemiology and prevention is provided by Labarthe 2011 (the present bibliography is similarly organized). Remington, et al. 2010 presents an update of the standard public health text on chronic diseases, including CVD; cross-cutting issues relevant to multiple chronic conditions will become evident to the reader. Murray and Lopez 1996 provides a unique insight to the burden of CVD and other major diseases globally, projected from 1990 to 2020, based on available data and extensive modeling. The economic importance of preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) is presented in World Health Organization 2005. An edited volume, Marmot and Elliott 2005, updates a 1992 edition with fifty-one wide-ranging chapters reflecting views of a large number of contributors worldwide. Gaziano, et al. 2006 presents a chapter on CVD within a major World Bank publication on disease control priorities for developing countries, and it includes economic and policy analysis. Mathers, et al. 2006 demonstrates the magnitude of the burdens of CVD and other major diseases, with analysis specific to high-, middle-, and low-income regions throughout the world.

  • Gaziano, T. A., K. S. Reddy, F. Paccaud, S. Horton, and V. Chaturvedi. 2006. Cardiovascular disease. In Disease control priorities in developing countries. 2d ed. Edited by D. T. Jamison, J. G. Breman, A. R. Measham, et al., 645–662. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    DOI: 10.1596/978-0-8213-6179-5/Chpt-33E-mail Citation »

    Ischemic heart disease (IHD), stroke, and congestive heart failure (CHF, elsewhere simply heart failure, or HF) are addressed as to their regional and global distributions. Economic evaluations of alternative intervention strategies are discussed in this chapter; several other chapters present methods of economic analysis and principles of global health policy. Copublished with Oxford University Press.

  • Labarthe, D. R. 2011. Epidemiology and prevention of cardiovascular diseases: A global challenge. 2d ed. Sudbury MA: Jones and Bartlett.

    E-mail Citation »

    This single-author text presents a unified public health perspective. The epidemiology of major cardiovascular diseases, Definitions and both national and global patterns of occurrence, their causes and means of prevention, and the process of developing recommendations for public health policy and practice at national and global levels are reviewed.

  • Marmot, M., and P. Elliott, eds. 2005. Coronary heart disease epidemiology: From aetiology to public health. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198525738.001.0001E-mail Citation »

    Perspectives of many contributors are represented in this collection of fifty-one separately authored chapters on a wide range of topics specific to coronary heart disease (CHD), updating the 1992 first edition.

  • Mathers, C. D., A. D. Lopez, and C. J. L. Murray. 2006. The burden of disease and mortality by condition: Data, methods, and results for 2001. In Global burden of disease and risk factors. Edited by A. D. Lopez, C. D. Mathers, M. Ezzati, D. T. Jamison, and C. J. L. Murray, 45–240. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    DOI: 10.1596/978-0-8213-6262-4E-mail Citation »

    This sequel to the 1996 first edition updates estimates of regional and global morbidity and mortality and adds extensive discussion of attributable risks of common underlying factors for the major chronic diseases. Estimated numbers of deaths attributable to these causes are presented for high-, middle-, and low-income countries.  

  • Murray, C. J. L., and A. D. Lopez. 1996. Alternative visions of the future: projecting mortality and disability, 1990–2020. In The global burden of disease: A comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Edited by C. J. L. Murray and A. D. Lopez. Cambridge, MA: Harvard School of Public Health.

    E-mail Citation »

    This collaboration by the World Bank, World Health Organization, the Harvard School of Public Health reflects growing concern and awareness of the chronic diseases as a global health problem. Past trends and contemporary models identify heart disease and stroke as the first and second leading causes of death in 1990 and 2020.

  • Remington, P. L., R. C. Brownson, and M. V. Wegner, eds. 2010. Chronic disease epidemiology and control. 3d ed. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association,

    DOI: 10.2105/9780875531922E-mail Citation »

    This standard reference work on public health aspects of chronic diseases, including CVD, has recently appeared in a new edition. Additional chapters on epidemiology and control of chronic diseases are relevant to CVD and will also be of value to readers.

  • World Health Organization. 2005. Preventing chronic diseases: A vital investment. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

    E-mail Citation »

    Further investigation of the economic costs of chronic diseases provides estimates of the current (2005) burden of “indirect costs”—those attributable to lost wages and productivity—due to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and projects great increases in economic burden to 2015 across eleven countries (for China, a sevenfold increase).

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