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Cardiovascular Disease (behavioral therapy)

Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease (heart failure, arrhythmia, heart valve problems, coronary artery disease), stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Who is at risk

  • Gender (males are at greater risk)
  • Age (the older you get, the higher your risk)
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Being post-menopausal
  • Smoking
  • High LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and low HDL, or "good" cholesterol
  • Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Uncontrolled stress and anger

Heart Disease Risk Factors You Can’t Control


The first symptom may be a heart attack or stroke.

What you can do

There are things you can do to lower your risk.

  • Quit smoking.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Control high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and stress.

Preventive service at no cost

Adults who are overweight or obese and have additional CVD risk factors

The USPSTF recommends offering or referring adults who are overweight or obese and have additional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors to intensive behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthful diet and physical activity for CVD prevention.

Why intervention is important

While some risk factors are out of your control, other factors can be changed. People can live healthier, more active lives after making lifestyle changes.

It can have benefits for CVD risk in overweight or obese adults who are at increased risk for CVD, including decreases in blood pressure, lipid and fasting glucose levels, and body mass index (BMI) and increases in levels of physical activity.

What the intervention is

Sessions that are designed to help people learn and engage in healthy behaviors while limiting unhealthy ones. Your primary care doctor may guide you or may refer you to a dietitian, nutritionist, health educator, or psychologist.

Sessions may be in-person with additional telephone contacts. Interventions generally focus on behavior change.


Treatment will depend on what type of cardiovascular disease your doctor diagnoses. It may include medications, surgery, and/or monitoring.

Additional tips

Changing your exercise and eating habits may have other benefits:

  • Lower your risk for diabetes.
  • Lose weight

Additional Resources