What is Cardiovascular?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease includes coronary artery diseases (CAD) such as angina and myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack). Other CVDs include stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmia, congenital heart disease, valvular heart disease, carditis, aortic aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, thromboembolic disease, and venous thrombosis.
The underlying mechanisms vary depending on the disease in question. Coronary artery disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease involve atherosclerosis. This may be caused by high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, lack of exercise, obesity, high blood cholesterol, poor diet, and excessive alcohol consumption, among others. High blood pressure results in 13% of CVD deaths, while tobacco results in 9%, diabetes 6%, lack of exercise 6% and obesity 5%. Rheumatic heart disease may follow untreated strep throat.
Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.
7 Tips for Avoiding Cardiovascular Disease
- Eat wisely.
Cut back on foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, such as butter, eggs, meat, and whole milk. Eat more foods high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads.
- Do not smoke, and if you do smoke, quit.
Nicotine narrows and restricts blood vessels, so does having diabetes. You can’t change having diabetes, but you can stop damage caused by nicotine.
- Be physically active and maintain a healthy body weight.
There are many cardiovascular benefits of physical activity. Try for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking, on most days.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
High blood pressure, called hypertension, is known as “the silent killer” as it goes without symptoms in most individuals. High blood pressure causes wear and tear of the delicate inner lining of your blood vessels. The higher your blood pressure (BP) the greater your risk. The risk begins to increase from a pressure of 115/70 mmHg and doubles for each 10 mmHg increase in systolic (the larger number) and 5 mmHg increase in the diastolic (the smaller number).
- Know your risks.
The most influential risk factor for cardiovascular disease is age – the older you are, the greater your risk. The second is your genetic make-up. Although everyone is excited by the scientific progress in genomics research, conclusive gene tests are still in their infancy. But, as I tell our medical students, “A good family history is a poor man’s gene test.” We have long known that if your parents, grandparents, or other relatives were afflicted with or died of heart disease, diabetes or stroke, your risk is much greater.
- Take responsibility for your health.
Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death in America, accounting for 34 percent of deaths, many suddenly and almost all of them premature. This is down from 40 percent just four decades ago, mainly due to treatment of common risk factors. If you have diabetes, your risk increases dramatically. The best prevention against heart disease and stroke is to understand the risks and treatment options. The greatest risk is ignorance or misinformation. The first step is to take responsibility for your health.
- Reduce stress.
Stress contributes to cardiovascular disease and, if severe, can cause a heart attack or sudden death. There are plenty of options that help reduce stress, such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, striving for a good marriage, laughing, volunteering or attending religious services. Watching TV generally does not relieve, but can aggravate stress. Also, try to avoid situations and people who make you anxious or angry.