Cardiovascular Disease – world’s number one chronic disease

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease accounted for 30% of all global deaths in 2008.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a constellation of chronic diseases – most significantly, coronary heart disease (CHD) and  cerebrovascular disease (stroke), which together account for about 80% of all CVD deaths. As the terms describe, CHD is essentially a disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart, while stroke refers to diseases involving the blood vessels of the brain.

Lifestyle diseases interlinked

Rather than being diseases in isolation, the Metabolic Syndrome lifestyle-related chronic diseases (obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and CVD) are all intricately linked. For example 2008 CVD data (WHO) revealed that 16.5% of all deaths (9.4 million people) were directly due to the effects of high blood pressure on CHD (45%) and stroke (51%). People with diabetes are also far more likely to develop CHD than those who do not have diabetes. Similarly CVD risk rises exponentially with obesity.

While the proximate cause of a heart attack is the formation of a thrombus or clot in a coronary artery, the main underlying cause is the chronic disease of atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of waxy plaque on the inside of arteries.

Explained

• Heart diseases are medical conditions of the heart and the blood vessels (arteries) supplying it, which impair the normal functioning of the heart and blood vessels. These diseases include high blood pressure, problems relating to blood fats, heart attacks and angina.

• A stroke is a sudden blockage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, which may result in loss of consciousness, difficulty with speech, confusion, paralysis on one side of the body and partial loss of movement.

Atherosclerosis

What causes atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is a disease of large and medium-sized muscular arteries. A build up of plaque in the arteries leads to changes in the blood vessels. It can also obstruct blood flow and reduce the oxygen getting to some organs.

Evidence shows that inflammation plays an important role in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis.  We also know now that the major drivers of the inflammatory processes result from lifestyle-related risk factors such as diet, lack of physical activity, smoking and emotional stress.

How to treat and prevent atherosclerosis

At a high level this means that we need to ensure that we: consume foods and beverages that do not cause inflammation; get sufficient exercise; don’t smoke, and eliminate as far as is possible, the stressors of life.

Look out for articles in the coming weeks which will talk you through prevention and lifestyle modifications you can make to reduce your risks of CVD and the other lifestyle-related diseases.

Next week we will discuss the ‘conventional wisdom’ concerning  the so-called heart-healthy diet against the backdrop of what the science reveals to help you to make informed decisions about your nutritional approach to CVD.

If you would like help to modify your lifestyle and reduce your risk of developing the chronic lifestyle diseases associated with Metabolic Syndrome, visit a Dis-Chem pharmacy, get tested and get help. Met-S Care works with Dis-Chem Pharmacies to empower people living with Metabolic Syndrome to take control of their condition.

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