Cardiovascular disease or CVD is an umbrella term for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels.1,2 There are many different types of cardiovascular disease, with some of the most common being coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease.

Over the last several decades, the number of Americans affected by cardiovascular disease has steadily risen. In turn, the U.S. has experienced an increase in the number of people with chronic conditions, as CV diseases are highly-correlated with other chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

At Novo Nordisk, we are acting on our purpose to meet the unmet needs of people living with serious chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), a disease that impacts millions of Americans, building on our decades of research, development, and treatment of diabetes, obesity, and cardiometabolic diseases.2 We welcome you to learn more about its causes, symptoms, and risk factors, as well as discover our research and development efforts within this disease area.

Atherosclerosis, commonly referred to as “clogged arteries”, is a major contributing factor to coronary heart disease and heart attack, cerebrovascular disease and stroke, peripheral artery disease, and heart failure.

Atherosclerosis occurs when fats, cholesterol, and other substances build up inside the arteries. This fat build-up causes an inflammatory process that results in the development of atherosclerotic plaque, which can continue to accumulate and harden within the artery to eventually reduce (stenosis), or completely block (embolism), the flow of blood.8

High levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes all increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis, but the slow development of atherosclerosis also gives a unique opportunity for prevention.10

Heart attack

Coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is characterised by the build-up of atherosclerotic plaques in the heart’s arteries. As these plaques grow, they can reduce or even rupture and fully block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, resulting in a heart attack.9

Some of the most common risk factors for coronary heart disease include smoking, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure.10

The group of conditions that affect the blood vessels that supply blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain, are called cerebrovascular disease.

Stroke is one of the most common causes of death and a leading cause of disability.15 A stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying the brain with oxygen is blocked by an atherosclerotic plaque (this is called an ischaemic stroke) or if a blood vessel bursts (haemorrhagic stroke). The part of the brain that does not get enough blood or oxygen becomes damaged and starts to die within minutes, and can cause long-term brain damage, disability, or even death.

Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, poor diet, smoking, and high cholesterol levels can all increase the risk of developing cerebrovascular disease.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when the blood vessels that supply parts of the body, other than the heart or brain, become narrowed or blocked.

Diabetes and smoking are two of the most important risk factors for PAD, with age, family history, inactivity, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure also increasing risk.

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s need for blood and oxygen.

Both coronary heart disease and high blood pressure are major risk factors for heart failure.

Novo Nordisk is deeply committed to advancing the research and development in cardiovascular disease to help address the unmet need that remains today. CVD is the common denominator for a host of chronic, serious diseases, and continues to guide research and development moving forward. 

For example, knowing that patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are two to three times more likely to experience heart failure than people without diabetes, working toward treatment options that help address concurrent disease states alongside CVD helps us drive change, and improve outcomes in this space.

Learn more about our ambitious R&D pipeline.

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