Cardiovascular Disease and Occupational Factors

skeletal view of the heart and lungs and blood stream

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. Among the many conditions that make up CVD are coronary heart disease, stroke (damage to the brain caused by a blood clot or intracerebral bleeding), and other diseases of the heart such as arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, and heart valve problems. CVD is the leading cause of death in the United States 1.and worldwide 2. Health behaviors and factors that define cardiovascular health have been characterized 3. While it has been shown that more than half of those with CVD (53%) are less than 60 years old, and circulatory diseases are a leading cause of death and permanent disability among workers 4, 5, much is unknown about how occupational risk factors contribute to CVD. NIOSH researchers are investigating a wide variety of occupational factors potentially related to CVD. Some of NIOSH’s current areas of study, which address a range of workers, risk factors, and challenging research questions, are highlighted in this Topic Page.


  1. Heron, M [2016]. Deaths: Leading causes for 2014. National vital statistics reports; 65(5). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. icon
  2. World Health Organization [2017].  Fact Sheet – The Top 10 Causes of Death. icon
  3. Mozaffarian D, et al. on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee [2015]. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation 131:e29–e322.
  4. Cooper R, Cutler J, Desvigne-Nickens P, et al [2000]. Trends and disparities in coronary heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases in the United States: findings from the National Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. Circulation 102:3137–3147.
  5. Leigh PJ, Miller TR [1998]. Job-related diseases and occupations within a large workers’ compensation data set. Am J Ind Med 33:197–211.

Page last reviewed: January 31, 2017