Cardiovascular Diseases – The risk factors

This is in continuation of the first part – Cardiovascular diseases – The introduction

According to the WHO report, approximately 75% cardiovascular diseases can be attributed to the conventional (modifiable) risk factors. Here is the excerpts of the report:

Modifiable risk factors

High blood pressure: This is the major and the most important risk factor of cardiovascular diseases. The normal blood pressure range is 120-80. Some of the good to know information about the blood pressure

  • High Blood Pressure – the heart exerts more force to pump the same quantity of blood within the same time and over the years can weaken your heart.
  • Main Reasons for high blood pressure are- Stress or mental tension, hereditary, excess salt intake, over-weight, sedentary life-style, smoking and excess alcohol.

Abnormal blood lipids: High total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and low levels of HDLcholesterol increase risk of coronary heart disease
and ischaemic stroke.

Cholesterol: A fat (lipid) which is produced by the liver and is crucial for normal body functioning. The screening test that is usually performed is a blood test called a lipid profile. The profile includes:

  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “bad” cholesterol): Normal Value: Less than 100
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “good” cholesterol): Normal value: 60 and above
  • Triglycerides (fats carried in the blood from the food we eat. Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar in the body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body.) Normal value: Less than 150

The desirable level of total cholesterol level is Less than 200

Tobacco Use: Increases risks of cardiovascular disease, especially
in people who started young, and heavy smokers.
Passive smoking an additional risk.

Physical Inactivity: Increases risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%.

Obesity:  Major risk for coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Unhealthy diets: Low fruit and vegetable intake is estimated to cause
about 31% of coronary heart disease and 11% of stroke worldwide; high saturated fat intake increases the risk of heart disease and stroke through its effect on blood lipids and thrombosis.

Mental ill-health: Depression is associated with an increase risk of coronary heart disease. Howstuffworks explains the reasons behind depression leading to heart diseases:

  • Depression increases the production of free radicals and fatty acids, damaging the lining of the blood vessels
  • Mental stress increases plaque formation in the arteries. Plaque ( A deposit of fatty material on the inner lining of an arterial wall)  formation clogs the arteries which increases the risk of heart attack. High “bad” cholesterol and low “good” cholesterol, High blood pressure and smokeare some of the major reasons of plaque formation
  • They smoke and drink excessively and avoid exercise.

Alcohol use: One to two drinks per day may lead to a 30%
reduction in heart disease, but heavy drinking damages the heart muscle.

Non modifiable risk factors

Advancing age: Most powerful independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease; risk of stroke doubles every decade after age of 55.

Heredity or family history: Increased risk if a first-degree blood relative has
had coronary heart disease or stroke before the age of 55 years (for a male relative) or 65 years (for a female relative).

Gender: Higher rates of coronary heart disease among men compared with women (premenopausal age); risk of stroke is similar for men and women.

To read the complete WHO report  click here

It is very important to beware of these risk factors and have a check in our diet, habits and most importantly our mental well being. Too much stress is harmful to all of us irrespective of what age group we belong.

The greatest asset one can have is a healthy body and a peaceful mind. Please remember Life is a gift and we must take care of it.

Take Care

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