The prevention of cardiovascular disease: Emphasis on secondary prevention

J. G. Robinson, A. S. Leon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease affecting all major arteries. Clinical evidence of atherosclerosis increases the risk of subsequent morbid and mortal events fivefold to sevenfold over the next 5 to 10 years. The same risk factors contribute to the initial development of CVD events as to their recurrence. Both coronary and noncoronary events, such as stroke or PAD, reflect the severity of the underlying atherosclerotic process and strongly predict future excess CVD morbidity and mortality. Short-term and long-term survival depends on modifying the risk factors that contribute to CVD events. Although absolute proof of benefit for secondary prevention does not exist for all risk factors, the data from primary prevention trials and the secondary prevention trials that have been done argue strongly for aggressive intervention. Benefit has been demonstrated for smoking cessation, cholesterol reduction, and blood pressure control. Selected patients may benefit from additional medical, procedural, or surgical interventions to prolong life, such as beta-blocking agents, aspirin, or carotid endarterectomy. Many secondary prevention measures are a cost-effective way to reduce the substantial morbidity and mortality due to CVD. Contrary to primary prevention, even modest treatment effects from secondary prevention efforts can benefit large numbers of patients. Finally, secondary prevention may be more successful because patients with clinical evidence of CVD may be more highly motivated than their healthy counterparts to make and maintain lifestyle changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-98
Number of pages30
JournalMedical Clinics of North America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994


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