Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of disability and premature death throughout the
world, and contributes substantially to the escalating costs of health care. The underlying
pathology is atherosclerosis, which develops over many years and is usually advanced by
the time symptoms occur, generally in middle age. Acute coronary and cerebrovascular
events frequently occur suddenly, and are often fatal before medical care can be given.
Modifi cation of risk factors has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity in people
with diagnosed or undiagnosed cardiovascular disease.
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