Cardiovascular Diseases-Risk Factors
Cardiovascular disease is sometimes called “heart disease”, but in medical terms, they are not exactly the same thing. Heart disease is a general term for conditions affecting the structure of the heart and the way it functions. All heart diseases are cardiovascular diseases. However, not all cardiovascular diseases are heart diseases. An example is stroke, which affects blood vessels in the brain, but not the heart itself.
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease are particular habits, behaviors, circumstances or conditions that increase a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including lack of exercise, unhealthy eating, smoking, diabetes, age and family history. Cardiovascular disease is a broad, umbrella term used to describe all conditions affecting the heart and circulatory system, including coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack and aortic disease.
Cardiovascular disease risk factors can be split into two categories: modifiable and non-modifiable. Non-modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors are those that cannot be changed. These include a person’s age, ethnicity and family history (genetics cannot be changed), among other factors. Modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors are those that can be reduced or controlled with altered behavior. By making certain lifestyle changes, people are able to lower their chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Cholestrol: High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – also known as “bad cholesterol” – are linked to a range of cardiovascular diseases. High levels of LDL cholesterol are often caused by factors such as an unhealthy diet, smoking, physical inactivity, high alcohol intake and liver and kidney disease.
Hypertension: High blood pressure, known as hypertension, is another contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, stroke and heart attack. High blood pressure is often symptomless, but can be easily diagnosed by a doctor, using a routine test.
Diabetes: Having diabetes, a condition that causes high levels of glucose in the blood, is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. High glucose levels can damage the artery walls and make the buildup of fatty deposits (atheroma) more likely. If these fatty deposits occur in the coronary arteries, they can lead to possible coronary heart disease and heart attack.
Physical inactivity: Physical inactivity is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Not exercising regularly increases a person’s chances of being overweight, of having high blood pressure and of developing other conditions that make cardiovascular disease more likely.
Obesity: Being overweight is another leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Eating an unhealthy diet and being physically inactive are both contributing factors to being overweight, which is generally defined as having a body mass index (BMI) outside the normal range.
Diet: Eating an unhealthy diet is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. To lower the risk, a balanced diet made up of plenty of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates and protein should be aimed at and excess fats, salts and sugars avoided.
Journal of Clinical & Experimental Cardiology
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