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As the largest cause of death worldwide, cardiac disease has spawned the development of an entire industry dedicated to its treatment. There are a wide range of both drug treatments and surgical procedures that are used to either prevent or treat cardiac disease. Additionally, food and beverage manufacturers have responded to concerns about cholesterol intake by producing and marketing a wide range of low-cholesterol foods. In spite of this, people still maintain relatively poor diets and engage in activities that increase their risk of developing cardiac disease. This is likely due to the fact that heart problems develop years after exposure to risk factors, decreasing the urgency of taking preventive measures. As such, the demand for pharmaceutical and surgical treatments has remained strong and is unlikely to ebb in the near future.
Medical device manufacturers
Cardiovascular drugs comprised the largest pharmaceutical drug category in 2006 worldwide.
Pharmaceuticals World Market of Top 5 Therapeutic Classes (2006) 
|Value ($bn)*||% of Total||Growth vs. 2005**|
|Central nervous system||99.9||16%||8%|
|Alimentary tract and metabolic||73.6||12%||9%|
|Anti-infectives (bacterial,viral and fungal) excluding vaccines||61.4||10%||3%|
Note: *Based on an average 2006 £/$ exchange rate of 1.85 
Note: **Based on £ figures from 2005; does not account for exchange rate difference between 2005 and 2006
Cardiac (or cardiovascular) disease refers to any condition affecting the ability of the heart and/or blood vessels to function properly. There are many different kinds of cardiac disease, but they all threaten the circulatory system in one way or another. This is what makes cardiac disease so deadly; a disruption of the blood supply to any part of the body can lead to tissue damage or death, often within a matter of minutes. Some of the major types of cardiac disease include:
Most cardiac diseases are caused by the buildup of cholesterol and other lipids in the walls of blood vessels, which can cause them to constrict or reduce their ability to expand and contract in response to changing demand for blood circulation. This buildup can even cause blockages in the arteries, blocking the blood supply to a certain part of the body. Additionally, some factors can increase blood pressure or elevate the heart rate, which can increase the risk of developing cardiac disease. The combination of the two factors, arterial buildup and high blood pressure, can greatly increase the likelihood of heart problems. Many factors can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease, including:
These risk factors are generally preventable, though there are some risk factors that cannot be prevented. Genetics have been linked to cardiovascular disease; some people with a family history of heart problems are naturally more predisposed to develop cardiac problems themselves. In addition to the hereditary aspect, males are more likely than females to suffer from cardiac diseases. Old age is also a risk factor. The risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest increases with age, and over half of all people over the age of 60 suffer from some form of cardiac disease.
The treatment of cardiac disease is divided into two categories: preventive treatment and the treatment of existing conditions. The risk factors for cardiac disease are well-known, and much of the preventive treatment involves lifestyle changes aimed at decreasing a person's risk of developing problems later on. Common recommendations for preventing heart disease include avoiding smoking, eating a generally healthier diet, and getting regular aerobic exercise, among other things. When the lifestyle changes aren't sufficient, there are a wide range of pharmaceuticals available to lower blood cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure, which are both risk factors for cardiac disease. Antihypertensives, which lower blood pressure, and statins, which lower cholesterol, have become widely used to decrease the risk of developing heart problems.
The treatment of existing cardiac diseases includes both surgical and drug therapies. Angioplasty is a commonly used procedure that physically widens constricted or blocked arteries. In more severe cases, coronary bypass surgery replaces damaged blood vessels with healthier ones. This surgery is used to repair the critical coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle itself and, if damaged, can lead to heart attacks. In addition to surgical procedures, drugs are also commonly used to treat existing heart conditions. Specifically, drugs aimed at lowering blood pressure and preventing the aggregation of platelets in the bloodstream are the most widely used. These don't specifically work to repair damaged vessels or heart tissue, but they do help to prevent the recurrence of acute cardiac problems like strokes and heart attacks. As with preventive therapies, abstinence from known risk factors is key to the treatment of cardiac diseases.