What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a group of conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels and associated with a condition known as atherosclerosis which is a buildup of fatty deposits known as plaque that leads to narrowing of blood vessels and increased risk of blood clots.
Why is this condition particularly important to be educated on? Well, CVD is the main cause of heart attacks or strokes and the leading cause of mortality globally! Statistics from the American Heart Association and World Health Organization estimated that 17.9 million people died from CVD in 2019, which is equivalent to 32% of total global deaths, and of those 85% were due to heart attack and stroke.
Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors such as tobacco usage, diet and obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and excessive alcohol consumption. It is important to detect cardiovascular disease as early as possible for the best possible outcomes can be achieved by implementing medication and counselling.
At Medpoint, we offer an array of imaging and tests that can used to diagnose cardiovascular diseases such as echocardiograms and electrocardiograms which are included in the comprehensive medical assessments that screen for early detection of diseases like CVD. Please consider reaching out to one of our cardiology professionals for more information regarding CVD!
CVD can be approached in a proactive manner by leading a healthy lifestyle, and the first step you can take is to understand the main risk factors that contribute to the risk of developing CVD.
Risk factors can be further separated into modifiable and non-modifiable. Non-modifiable risk factors include family history of CVD, ethnicity, age, and gender; these are unable to be targeted with intervention so instead focus on the factors you can actively influence yourself. Modifiable risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, diet, alcohol, and smoking are all factors that are under your own control.
So, what can you do? Here are some exercise and nutrition guidelines that you can employ right now to reduce your risk of CVD.
Did you know that the substances in tobacco damages and narrows blood vessels? Smoking cessation can greatly reduce development of atherosclerosis and even gradually reducing exposure to these harmful substances will greatly reduce cardiovascular risk.
A drink every now and than is perfectly normal but excessive alcohol consumption can increase cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as contribute to weight gain. High blood pressure (hypertension) can damage blood vessels and cholesterol, which is a fatty substance that accumulates in excess, contributes to atherosclerosis. Cutting back on alcohol consumption and aiming to spread out your drinking throughout the week rather than one binge-heavy night can help moderate the risk factors that are associated with drinking.
Risk factors such as diabetes and diabetes can be addressed with a balanced diet that is low in saturated fats typically found in foods like cream and shortening, low in sugars typically found in processed foods, and low in sodium which contributes to hypertension. Emphasize a variety of nutrient-dense foods, rich in dietary fiber and whole grains and incorporate at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables day. Speak with one of our dietitians at Medpoint for more intensive nutritional counselling to get your diet in check. www.londondietitians.ca
In this modern digital age, many of us our leading sedentary lifestyles with more time sitting at our desks than any other activity. One of the best adjunct interventions for cardiovascular patients is implementing regular physical activity. Guidelines for adults suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, with activities such as cycling or running. Start at a comfortable level and gradually increase frequency, duration, and intensity as your fitness level improves. Always check with your general practitioner and make sure you obtain medical clearance if you have been sedentary for long periods or have not engaged in physical activity before!
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