What is Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) ?
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 are stroke, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, congenital heart disease, endocarditis, aortic aneurysms, peripheral artery disease and venous thrombosis.

Understanding and causes of CVD 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.

Risk of heart disease There are several risk factors for heart diseases: age, gender, tobacco use, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, obesity, family history of cardiovascular disease, raised blood pressure (hypertension), raised blood sugar (diabetes mellitus) and raised blood cholesterol.

Prevention It is estimated that 90% of CVD is preventable. Prevention of atherosclerosis is by decreasing risk factors through: healthy eating, exercise, avoidance of tobacco smoke and limiting alcohol intake. Treating high blood pressure and diabetes is also beneficial. Treating people who have strep throat with antibiotics can decrease the risk of rheumatic heart disease. The effect of the use of aspirin in people who are otherwise healthy is of unclear benefit. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends against its use for prevention in women less than 55 and men less than 45 years old; however, in those who are older it is recommends in some individuals. Treatment of those who have CVD improves outcomes. A low-fat, high-fiber diet including whole grains and fruit and vegetables. Five portions a day reduces risk by about 25%. Tobacco cessation and avoidance of second-hand smoke Limit alcohol consumption to the recommended daily limits; consumption of 1–2 standard alcoholic drinks per day may reduce risk by 30%. Excessive alcohol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Lower blood pressures, if elevated, Decrease body fat if overweight or obese Increase daily activity to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day at least five times per week (multiply by three if horizontal); Reduce sugar consumptions Decrease psychosocial stress.

Medication Aspirin has been found to be of only modest benefit in those at low risk of heart disease as the risk of serious bleeding is almost equal to the benefit with respect to cardiovascular problems. In those at really low risk it is not recommended

Management Cardiovascular disease is treatable with initial treatment primarily focused on diet and lifestyle interventions

Further information: Nhs – www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cardiovascular-disease Diabetes UK – www.diabetes.org.uk/Cardiovascular diseases American Diabetes Association – www.diabetes.org/Cardiovascular diseases Contact your local GP for further help and information

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