Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide: according to the World Heart Federation, every year 17 million people die from this pathology. Of these, 80% are avoidable with proper health habits. Therefore, today we give you the keys to prevent them and take care of our heart.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE?
These are all conditions related to the heart and blood vessels. Although their causes are not completely clarified, genetic and environmental factors play a fundamental role in the development of arteriosclerosis, which is ultimately responsible for the clogging of arterial blood vessels.
Arteriosclerosis consists of the formation of the so-called atheroma plaque, that is, an accumulation of various substances in the inner wall of the arteries, such as cholesterol, calcium, and fat. As a result, these artery walls become stiff and narrow, resulting in less blood flow to all tissues, including the heart itself.
Cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease (angina pectoris and myocardial infarction), heart failure or strokes are the consequence. These conditions are closely related to each other, as they are caused by the same causes and the same person may suffer from more than one. For this reason they are all known by the generic name of cardiovascular diseases.
RISK FACTORS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
The Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality indicates the risk factors that must be controlled in order to prevent cardiovascular disease:
- Overweight and obesity: this has a negative impact on hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes.
- Sedentary: exercise burns calories and helps control cholesterol and diabetes levels, and lowers blood pressure.
- Tobacco: It is estimated that 29% of deaths from heart disease are due to smoking.
- Hypertension: with controlled blood pressure, 20% of deaths from coronary heart disease and 24% of deaths from cerebrovascular disease could be prevented.
- Cholesterol: Keeping “bad” cholesterol at bay can reduce the risk of heart attack.
- Diabetes: Cardiovascular disease is the main complication of diabetes and is responsible for more than 50% of deaths in diabetic patients.
5 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY HEART
In addition to keeping risk factors under control, having healthy lifestyles significantly reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Some recommendations:
- Stop smoking. Smoking triples the risk of cardiovascular disease because nicotine directly damages the arteries and causes alterations in blood clotting.
- A good diet. An inadequate diet can cause three of the most common health problems associated with cardiac risk: obesity, increased cholesterol and hypertension.
- What to avoid: saturated fats, red meats and sugary products. It is also not recommended to take more than 5 grams of salt a day, that is, the equivalent of one teaspoon of coffee.
- What you should eat: at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables each day, fiber with whole grains and legumes. Also fish, especially those containing omega 3, such as salmon, and olive oil.
- Get some exercise. Playing sports has many benefits, especially for the heart. It’s not about becoming an athlete, but making small gestures, like taking a 30-minute walk every day or getting used to using the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Sleep well and control anxiety. Adequate rest maintains our hormone levels, regulates breathing and reduces blood pressure. For its part, stress increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if they are prolonged over time and added to other factors, such as obesity, smoking or hypertension.
- Get regular checkups. Many of the risks to our heart do not usually cause symptoms: people who have an increase in cholesterol, sugar or blood pressure, especially in their early stages, are asymptomatic, i.e. they do not know about these risks until it is too late. For this reason, an annual visit to the doctor and a blood test may be enough to know your state of health and apply the necessary measures.
In addition, if your doctor has prescribed any treatment to control your blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar, it is very important to follow it to the letter: many people with heart problems did not do so at the time.
Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by changing some habits. Sometimes modifying them can be difficult, but don’t give up. There are many professionals who can help you improve your lifestyle: nutritionists, nurses, doctors, physiotherapists… Make up your mind and look for the support you need to achieve better cardiovascular health.