Cardiovascular disease (CVD), also known as heart and circulatory disease, is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. It forms as a result of plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, thereby narrowing the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow.
Cardiovascular disease includes coronary artery diseases (CAD) such as angina and myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack). Other CVDs are stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, and such. The main 4 types of CVD are:
- Coronary Heart Disease: Coronary heart disease occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked or reduced.
- Strokes and Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA): A stroke is where the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, which can cause brain damage and possibly death. In TIA or “mini-stroke” the blood flow to the brain is only temporarily disrupted.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease: Peripheral arterial disease occurs when there’s a blockage in the arteries to the limbs – usually the legs.
- Aortic disease: Aortic diseases are a group of conditions affecting the aorta. This is the largest blood vessel in the body, which carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels, making it one of the primary risk factors of CVD
- High Cholesterol: If you have high cholesterol, it can cause your blood vessels to narrow and increase your risk of developing a blood clot.
- Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels, making them more likely to become narrowed. Also, many people with type 2 diabetes are also overweight or obese, which also increases the risk of CVD.
- Sedentary Lifestyle: If you are physically inactive, it’s more likely that you’ll have high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and be overweight. These are risk factors for CVD.
- Family History: If you have a family history of CVD’s, then it is more likely for you to have the same.
- Excessive use of alcohol and smoking
- Chest pain (angina)
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
- Racing heartbeat (tachycardia) or slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
- Chest pain or discomfort
Almost 90% of CVD’s can be prevented if the right lifestyle is adopted. Here are some techniques:
- Quit smoking.
- Have a healthy balanced diet including low levels of salt, saturated fats, sugar, plenty of fiber and fruits and vegetables.
- Maintain a healthy weight, and never stray over your adequate BMI.
- Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut down on alcohol.
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