Cardiovascular Diseases, or CVD, are among the leading causes of death in industrialized and developed countries, and it is reported that by 2020, it will surpass infectious diseases to become the top cause of death and disability, globally. Consult a Cardiologist to get Second Opinion
Cardiovascular Diseases are typically caused by the thickening of the walls of arteries and can be classified into three categories, depending upon which set of organs they impact. These are:
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1. Atherosclerotic Vascular Diseases
These diseases affect the arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body. Also known as Coronary Heart Disease, in this condition, the walls of arteries supplying blood to the heart become thick with plaque and restrict the supply of blood to the heart.
2. Cerebrovascular Disease
These are the vascular disease of the cerebral circulation, and affect the arteries that supply oxygen to the brain. When these arteries are blocked (due to a process called thromboembolism), the resulting loss of blood supply to the brain can cause irreversible damage to brain tissue
3. Peripheral Arterial Diseases
This is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your limbs and regions other than the myocardium and brain. This typically results in pain in the extremities, and the impaired blood supply can lead to death of impacted tissues, which may require amputation
Recently, there has been an alarming increase in the reported cases of CVD among individuals of all socioeconomic strata, and India alone reports approximately 25% of cardiovascular-related deaths globally. In fact, it is expected that in next 15 years, more than 50% of the heart patients worldwide will be from India.This is serious!
The propensity of Indians for the CVD can be explained by the presence of what is called Risk Factors – attributes or characteristics of an individual that increases the likelihood of developing a disease. The leading risk factors of CVD in developed countries include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, excessive use of tobacco, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. However, in developing countries, such as India, low vegetable and fruit intake and alcohol abuse are additional risk factors, and outrank others in the list of risk factors.
Below is a quick and dirty list of conventional risk factors:
Major modifiable risk factors
- Unhealthy diet
- Alcohol abuse
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal blood cholesterol
- Excessive use of Tobacco
- Diabetes mellitus
- Obesity and Physical Inactivity
Other modifiable risk factors
- Poor mental health
- Psychosocial stress
- Use of certain medication
- Left ventricular hypertrophy
Non-modifiable risk factors
- Advancing age
- Heredity or family history
- Ethnicity or race
As can be seen, these risk factors have been broadly divided into Modifiable and Non-modifiable. Modifiable risk factors are those which, if treated and controlled, would reduce the risk of Cardiovascular Diseases, while Non-modifiable risk factors can’t be controlled or impacted to reduce the CVD burden. What this means is that with some lifestyle changes and discipline, it is possible to minimize the risk of CVD, even if we can’t avoid it altogether.
Below are the specific interventions that can help control the risk factors:
Change your dietary habits
- Consume low saturated and trans fat, and sodium
- Limit your dietary cholesterol to below 100 mg/1000kcal/day
- Eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day
- Take B12, B6, and at least 1000 mg of calcium and RDA of magnesium
Quit smoking! Evidence currently at hand does not support that the e-cigarettes do not cause CVD
Control your blood pressure by focusing on a prudent diet, regular physical activity, and weight control
If you or a loved is showing any of the symptoms of Cardiovascular Diseases, or if they have a sedentary lifestyle, they may be at a risk.