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Cardiovascular Disease by Rachel Askins

By at December 26, 2011 | 6:10 am | Print

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is preventable and reversible, yet it is still the leading cause of death in the world today. Many people do not realize the severity of this disease, nor do they realize that the prevention is much associated with the way society lives daily life. Each and every day men and women of all races and ethnicities fall victim to this disease. It is important that CVD, its’ symptoms, and how it can be avoided, is explained to our younger generation in hopes of preventing further outbreak. One in five individuals have some form of cardiovascular disease (Callow 302). In 2008 alone, an estimated 17.3 million people died from cardiovascular disease, which represents 30% of all deaths globally (Cardiovascular Diseases [CVDs] 3). It is projected that by 2030 a number almost reaching 23.6 million people will die from CVD (Cardiovascular Diseases [CVDs] 3). These statistics are found disturbing by our doctors, simply because people do not understand that changing their lifestyle can help them beat the world’s leading cause of death.

Cardiovascular disease, also known as CVD, is comprised of any diseases medically related to the blood vessels and heart. The term “cardio” pertains to the heart and the term “vascular” refers to the blood vessels. The terms “cardiovascular disease” is often synonymous with heart disease. There are many different varieties of CVD: myocardial infarction (heart attack), high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, heart valve disease, heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, arrhythmia, etc. (Cardiovascular Diseases [CVDs] 3). Most of these conditions are caused by the buildup of plaque on arterial walls, otherwise known as atherosclerosis.

Our blood is vital to our survival. It supplies oxygen and nutrients to our cells, and carries away cellular waste products such as carbon dioxide. In addition, the blood can carry cholesterol and fat, and also a substance called fibrin, which is used to form blood clots when the linings of blood vessels become damaged. Too much lipids (i.e. fats) in the blood can accumulate on these clots and then start to form plaque. Plaque from fatty deposits in the blood starts to harden the arteries and can narrow the blood vessels. This makes it harder for the blood to flow through them, since they become more constricted. This also makes the heart work harder to pump the blood throughout the body to compensate for the constricted arteries (Cardiovascular Disease: Facts, Prevention 1). If the arteries become too blocked, vital materials carried in the blood, such as oxygen, have a harder time reaching important tissues, such as in the brain. This is what causes strokes, which is one category in CVD.

Many call cardiovascular disease “the lifestyle disease.” The main contributor to these diseases, atherosclerosis, is caused mostly by the way people live day to day. Far too many people eat out on a daily basis, which assists in adding to the examples of obesity in our world today. One of the biggest risk factors for heart disease or stroke is a harmful diet. (Cardiovascular Disease [CVDs] 7) The fatty foods that go into our mouths and stomachs contain ingredients harmful to our systems. For example, those delicious McDonald’s french fries contain up to 15% of our daily value of sodium, which can clog our arteries (Nutrition 6). Not only can an unhealthy diet lead to CVD, it can also lead to obesity, being overweight, and lack of physical activity. Each of those factors puts a person at higher risk for CVD. If an individual adds smoking or drinking with any of those factors then the risk is even higher. Obesity, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, use of tobacco, and an unhealthy diet are the most important risk factors to CVD (Cardiovascular Disease [CVDs] 6). Although obesity can be hereditary, each of the other factors is controlled by the individual. These are all behaviors that can be changed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as other health problems.

The underlying diseases in blood vessels are many times overlooked since there are sometimes no major signs of them until something larger, such as a heart attack or stroke, occurs (Cardiovascular Disease [CVDs] 4). Even the smallest of symptoms should not be overlooked, so that this disease can be caught before it turns into something bigger. The lists of symptoms for each CVD vary but some go as follows. Warnings like discomfort or pains in the jaw, back, elbows, arms, or chest, can be the signs of CVD. Other signs include nausea, shortness of breath, or feeling faint. Sudden weakness or numbness of any body part, especially if it is limited to one side of the body, is the most common sign of a stroke. If any of these symptoms occur, it is vital that they are not disregarded. This disease is preventable, but assuming the smallest of symptoms is inconsequential, can even result in one’s demise.

After much research, it is clear that cardiovascular disease is preventable, and in some cases even reversible. Some of the types of CVD can be treated with surgeries and medications, such as blood pressure medications for high blood pressure. There are also operations to treat certain CVDs, such as coronary artery bypass. Medical devices, for instance a pacemaker, can also help treat some CVDs, or keep them from returning (Cardiovascular Diseases [CVDs] 6). Where prescriptions and surgical procedures are normally effective, many don’t realize that with a change of lifestyle CVD can be prevented and those expenses rendered unnecessary. Before any medications are purchased and any surgeries performed, it is said that a second and even third opinion should be sought (Cardiovascular Diseases: Facts, Disease 3). According to The New England Journal of Medicine, aspirin is proven effective in women in treating acute myocardial infarction, but not in preventing (Ridker 1294). It was found that aspirin lowered only the risk of stroke and did not affect the risk of heart attack, only treatment (Ridker et. al. 1293). Researchers came to this conclusion after doing a study where they gave a random 39,876 women ages 45 or over who were said to be initially healthy, some low dose aspirin 100 mg tablets and some placebos, every other day and then monitored these women for 10 years. During these 10 years, researchers watched for any major cardiovascular event. The results of this study showed that there were 477 major events in the aspirin group compared to the higher 522 events in the placebo group (Ridker et. al. 1293). Although this shows less major cardiovascular events in the aspirin group, there was more frequent gastrointestinal bleeding in the aspirin group as well (Ridker et. al. 1293). This study adds more reason to make for the lifestyle change before the medicine and/or surgery. While lowering the risk of one thing, aspirin added risk to another (stroke: gastrointestinal bleeding). The lifestyle changing would take the drive to change, but the medicines and surgeries can be both time consuming and expensive. The same things that treat cardiovascular disease can also prevent them. A healthier diet will reduce the risk of CVD and obesity and will also make it easier to engage in physical activity. Giving up the use of tobacco leads to easier exercise and a healthier heart in general. Doctors say that if we eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits, as well as limiting salt intake, we can help prevent strokes and heart attacks (Cardiovascular Diseases [CVDs] 6). Knowing our family medical history can also help many know what to watch for and/or be aware of. Making time to change these daily life routines means making for a better life.

To put it simply, the severity of CVD needs to be understood. Each symptom needs to be known so that all can work together to prevent this from continuing to be the number one cause of death in the world and even reverse those in pain at this time. A full understanding of cardiovascular disease can help many watch for the symptoms. If those symptoms ever arise, then the knowledge would be obvious on how to act. Since much of the causes are attributed to lifestyle, it can be prevented. There is a myth that CVD occurs only in the richer countries. This myth is false. In fact, “80% of the deaths that are caused by heart disease occur in low and middle –income countries” (Callow 307). These low and middle-income countries are adding to the spike in obesity problems due to diet changes where they are increasing the intake of salt, fat, sugar, and energy (Cardiovascular Diseases [CVDs] 7). As the obesity epidemic continues to rise everywhere, the deaths from cardiovascular disease rise with it. This is not just a disease for people who are older, preventing CVD starts in the adolescence. Children should be told to play outside instead of watching television or playing video games. It starts with giving children wheat bread instead of white bread, or skim milk instead of whole milk. When viewed from the larger scheme of things, it becomes apparent that many individuals unintentionally add risk factors to their lives, leading to CVD. Cardiovascular disease isn’t just another sickness; it is a combination of diseases that affect our heart and blood vessels. These are vital to our existence and a healthy lifestyle should be promoted to all.

Work Cited

Callow, Allan D. “Cardiovascular Disease 2005 – The Global Picture.” Vascular Pharmacology 45 (2006): 302-07. Science Direct. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
“Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs).” World Health Organization. Sept. 2011. WHO. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
“Cardiovascular Disease: Facts, Disease Prevention and Treatment Strategies.” Healing With Nutrition. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
“Cardiovascular Diseases: Facts, Prevention and Treatment.” Official Healthcare Online. 13 Nov. 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
“Nutrition ::” Home :: Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
Ridker, M.D., et. al. “A Randomized Trial of Low-Dose Aspirin in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women.” The New England Journal of Medicine 352.13 (2005): 1293-304. The New England Journal of Medicine. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.




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  1. rheumatic heart disease, 4 years ago Reply

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