Understanding cardiovascular diseases
Understanding cardiovascular diseases

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absolute risk

The risk of a person developing certain conditions or diseases over their lifetime. An individual’s risk can be expressed in a variety of ways: a 1 in 10 risk can also be written as a 10% risk or as a risk of 0.1.


A characteristic combination of atoms (including carbon and oxygen) in an organic chemical compound, formed when a combination of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom (together a hydroxyl group) is removed from an acid. Where lipids are concerned, acyl groups are formed when fatty acids are linked together by a molecule of glycerol.

angina pectoris

A crushing pain or feeling of constriction in the chest that usually lasts for several minutes, caused by ischaemia in the heart muscle. Commonly shortened to angina.


Molecules that slow or prevent the oxidation of other molecules. They may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals by interacting with and stabilising them. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene and vitamins C, E and A.


An uncontrolled, disordered or irregular heart beat.


Any hardening (and loss of elasticity) of arteries.


A type of arteriosclerosis involving the degeneration of arteries through the gradual restriction of blood flow by the build-up of fatty material and plaques on arterial walls. Also known as hardened or furred-up arteries, atherosclerosis commonly affects the major blood vessels, such as coronary, cerebral and peripheral arteries.


blood pressure

A measure of the force generated by the beating of the heart pressing blood against the walls of the arteries as it is pumped around the body. A blood pressure measurement shows the higher systolic pressure (when the heart beats) and the lower diastolic pressure (when the heart relaxes).


An abnormally slow heart beat, usually defined as less than 60 beats per minute when at rest.



The medical study of the heart.

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