Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is now the most prevalent and debilitating disease affecting the Chinese population. The goal of the present manuscript was to analyse cardiovascular risk factors and the prevalence of non-fatal CVDs from data gathered from the 2007-2008 China National Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders Study. A nationally representative sample of 46 239 adults, 20 years of age or older, was randomly recruited using a multistage stratified design method. Lifestyle factors, diagnosis of CVD, stroke, diabetes, and family history of each subject were collected, and an oral glucose tolerance test or a standard meal test was performed. Various non-fatal CVDs were reported by the subjects. SUDAAN software was used to perform all weighted statistical analyses, with P < 0.05 considered statistically significant. The prevalence of coronary heart disease, stroke, and CVDs was 0.74, 1.07, and 1.78% in males; and 0.51, 0.60, and 1.10% in females, respectively. The presence of CVDs increased with age in both males and females. The prevalence of being overweight or obese, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, or hyperglycaemia was 36.67, 30.09, 67.43, and 26.69% in males; and 29.77, 24.79, 63.98, and 23.62% in females, respectively. In the total sample of 46 239 patients, the prevalence of one subject having 1, 2, 3, or ≥4 of the 5 defined risk factors (i.e. smoking, overweight or obese, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, or hyperglycaemia) was 31.17, 27.38, 17.76, and 10.19%, respectively. Following adjustment for gender and age, the odds ratio of CVDs for those who had 1, 2, 3, or ≥4 risk factors was 2.36, 4.24, 4.88, and 7.22, respectively, when compared with patients with no risk factors. Morbidity attributed to the five defined cardiovascular risk factors was high in the Chinese population, with multiple risk factors present in the same individual. Therefore, reasonable prevention strategies should be designed to attenuate the rapid rise in cardiovascular morbidity.