Cardiovascular disease is often referred to as heart disease. The two terms can be used interchangeably. The disease, in general, refers to conditions that involve narrow or blocked blood vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries). This sort of thing can lead to heart attack, chest pain, and/or stroke. Issues concerning the heart's rhythm or valves are also forms of cardiovascular disease.
There are many contributing factors to cardiovascular disease. Some of them are not under your control. Things like age, gender, and genetic predisposition cannot be controlled. However, most contributing factors to heart disease are related to lifestyle choices that a person does have control over.
Smoking is a major contributing factor that increases a person's risk of heart disease. Smoking is a bad lifestyle choice for a bunch of reasons and especially when talking about cardiovascular disease. Smoking causes a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. It also increases the risk of clots forming within the arteries. Both of these things increase the risk of heart attack. Quitting smoking will begin immediately measurable improvements to overall cardiovascular health.
Alcohol consumption can also contribute to increased risk of heart disease. Consuming too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. This increases the risk for heart disease. Alcohol consumption also raises levels of triglycerides, and this can harden arteries.
Aging is inevitable, and the risk of cardiovascular disease increases as a person ages. In men, the risk increases starting at around 45 years of age. For women, the risk increases starting around age 55. The effects of aging and how they relate to heart disease can be slowed/reduced through diet changes and exercise changes. Living a sedentary life and having a poor diet is bad for cardiovascular health in general, but these choices are compounded by age. Increasing exercise can improve cardiovascular health. It is important to be active every day. The following is from Heart.org.
Be physically active every day. Research has shown that 3–4 sessions per week, lasting on average 40 minutes per session, and involving moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. But something IS better than nothing. If you're doing nothing now, start out slow. Even 10 minutes at a time may offer some health benefits. Studies show that people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to die early than those with a low fitness level.
Exercise also has the benefit of reducing stress levels. This is because exercise causes the release of "feel good" hormones like endorphins and dopamine. A high stress level is a risk factor for heart disease. It could be related to your job. Changing jobs might be a good way to reduce stress. However, that might not be a realistic option for many people. Exercise can reduce stress levels, increase heart health, and decrease the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease.
The exercise can be rendered fairly ineffective if a person does not also focus on a healthy diet. This is why diet and exercise are always stressed together. They enhance one another. Having a healthy diet does not mean being on a particular diet, and some general diet recommendations can be made to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as a person ages. Foods that are high in cholesterol and trans fats should be avoided. Limiting salt consumption is also important because salt can increase blood pressure, which, in turn, increases risk of heart disease.