First Advisor

Leslie McBride

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Health Studies: Health Sciences and University Honors


Health Studies


Cardiovascular system -- Diseases -- Risk factors, System theory




The significant proportion of the morbidity and mortality caused by cardiovascular disease is preventable, yet it remains one of the leading causes of death among both men and women, indicating the complexity of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is a multifaceted and persistent problem that calls for using another lens – a systems lens. A systems approach may be a useful tool to understand the structure of relationships that characterize and make cardiovascular disease so persistent and resistant to change. Therefore, the objectives of this paper were to (1) model the network of relationships that produce the epidemic of cardiovascular disease we see today, and (2) identify potential leverage points to more effectively prevent and address cardiovascular disease.

Soft systems methodology was used to guide the inquiry process. A review of the literature guided the construction of a system map of cardiovascular disease, and key leverage points identified. This paper has identified three key levers – stress, education, and purchasing power – that can be used to address cardiovascular disease, providing a visual representation of how changes in these levers could have an impact on other system variables, which eventually influence cardiovascular risk. If more attention was paid to these levers, public health interventions may be more effective in reducing morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular disease.


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Persistent Identifier

Table 1 - Literature review summary.docx (16 kB)
Table 1.

Appendix I - Figures 3-6.docx (221908 kB)
Appendix I. Figures 3-6.