Cardiovascular Disease: What is it and how can we prevent it?

The heart is a very important organ. It pumps blood around the body, allowing for the body’s tissues to get the energy and nutrients needed for survival. Injury to the heart and blood vessels can cause cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the most common cause of death globally and the number of cases seen worldwide rise every year.

What is Cardiovascular Disease?

CVD is actually a group of diseases which all involve the heart or blood vessels. These disorders are often related. They usually begin with fat building up in the arteries, which blocks blood flow in the blood vessels. The deposits build up over many years and eventually, the blood vessels can become completely blocked.

If a blood vessel supplying the heart itself becomes blocked. This is called a heart attack. The symptoms of a heart attack include pain, tightness and discomfort in the left or centre of the chest. Sometimes this pain can spread to the left arm and shoulders. People experiencing heart attacks are also often short of breath and may feel unusually tired.

What causes Cardiovascular Disease?

CVD has a range of causes. In some people it is hereditary, meaning it runs in their family. This is especially true for people who develop the disorder before the age of 50. CVD is most common in people over 50, with the risk of development increasing with age as more deposits build up in the blood vessel walls over time.

Certain lifestyle factors can contribute to an increased risk of CVD development. People who have unhealthy habits such as a poor diet have an increased risk for CVD. A diet high in fat or alcohol may contribute to the build-up of fatty deposits in your vessels. Another factor that contributes to CVD development is smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage blood vessels, making it easier for deposits to form in them.

How can you prevent Cardiovascular Disease?

Though there are some risk factors for CVD that cannot be changed (i.e, age and family history), 90% of cases are thought to be preventable. Keeping active through dancing, running or any other activity that makes your heart beat faster and harder and can go a long way! Exercise burns fat from the body and strengthens the heart muscle, making CVD is less likely to develop. Combining exercise with a healthy diet directly decreases the risk of CVD. Eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains (such as nuts) every day keeps the body in good physical condition. Limiting the amount of salt and sugar you eat every day, alongside avoiding smoking and alcohol, will also contribute to keeping your heart and its vessels healthy.

 Following these healthy habits can go a long way in keeping the body healthy and preventing CVD!

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