Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a collective term for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure and peripheral vascular disease. The underlying cause of CVD is the deposition and build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances on the inner lining of arteries, which form a plaque that cause the artery walls to lose their elasticity. This process is known as atherosclerosis. Over time, the build-up of plaque can lead to arteries becoming blocked, which stops the supply of blood to the heart (causing angina or heart disease) or to the brain (causing stroke).
CVD affects 1 in 6 Australians. It is the leading cause of death and disability in Australia and the number of people living with CVD is increasing. Risk factors for CVD include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, low fruit and vegetable intake, alcohol and smoking. 90% of Australians have at least 1 risk factor for CVD, and 25% have 3 or more risk factors. At the Florey, we are working to improve our understanding of disease mechanisms and developing treatments to mediate the effects of CVD.