Understanding and preventing cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), also known as heart disease, is the leading cause of death worldwide, according to the Center for Disease Control. CVD includes conditions such as hypertension, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and more. Prevention is an important strategy to reduce death and suffering from CVD, and it relies on managing risk factors and starting preventive medications for those with elevated risk.
Feb 10, 2023 | Will Manzi, CEP
As seen in Health & Wellness Magazine.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), also known as heart disease, is the leading cause of death worldwide, according to the Center for Disease Control. CVD includes conditions such as hypertension, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and more.
Prevention is an important strategy to reduce death and suffering from CVD, and it relies on managing risk factors and starting preventive medications for those with elevated risk.
At the top of the CDC’s list of primary risk factors for all chronic diseases are: smoking, poor nutrition, and sedentary lifestyle.
You may be more likely to develop cardiovascular disease if you have risk factors such as:
• High blood pressure (hypertension).
• High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia).
• Tobacco use (including vaping).
• Type 2 diabetes.
• Family history of heart disease.
• Lack of physical activity.
• Having excess weight or obesity.
• Diet high in sodium, sugar and fat.
• Overuse of alcohol.
• Misuse of prescription or recreational drugs.
• Preeclampsia or toxemia.
• Gestational diabetes.
• Chronic inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.
• Chronic kidney disease.
Living a healthier lifestyle can help prevent heart disease. This includes:
• Eliminating all tobacco use
• Eating a heart-healthy diet
• Following an appropriate exercise program
• Managing your weight
• Eliminating as much stress as possible
What are the signs and symptoms suggestive of cardiovascular, pulmonary, or metabolic disease?
• Pain, discomfort in the chest, neck, jaw, arms or other areas that may result from ischemia
• Shortness of breath at rest or with mild exertion
• Dizziness or syncope
• Orthopnea or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
• Ankle edema
• Palpitations or tachycardia
• Intermittent claudication
• Known heart murmur
• Unusual fatigue or shortness of breath with usual activity
FAQs ABOUT CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
Q: Who is most at risk?
A: Individuals with two or more risk factors or individuals who are symptomatic are most at risk. Looking at preventative measures, those who are predisposed to CVD are those with a strong family history of CVD.
Q: How can one prevent heart disease?
A: Preventative measures include a heart healthy diet such as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which is my recommendation which is used nationally by cardiologists through the American Heart Association. A healthy diet, in combination with aerobic, continuous exercise which incorporates large muscle groups, will mitigate your risk factors for CVD. These exercises include dancing, swimming, cycling/spinning, rowing, and running.
Medication can be utilized, but consult with your doctor before taking any drug.
Q: What role do nutrition, stress, and exercise play in CVD?
For modifiable risk factors, some measures can be taken to help reduce a person’s risk of developing CVD:
DIET: DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it is designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).
The DASH diet includes foods that are high in potassium, calcium and magnesium, but limits foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.
Studies have shown that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks, and it can lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels. Hypertension and high LDL cholesterol levels are two major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
EXERCISE: While not everyone has the same ability to exercise, getting some form of exercise for those who are able has immense heart health benefits. If you have angina or have had a heart attack, you may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation, which is a structured program that incorporates exercise, counseling, and education. Ask your healthcare provider for more information or a referral, if possible.
Stress: Stress is another contributor to CVD, and managing it can improve quality of life. Affordable ways to relieve stress include meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, exercise, time in nature, and connection with others.
At Performance Optimal Health we use comprehensive research and the latest technology to incorporate the four pillars of optimal health (exercise, recovery, nutrition, stress management) into your care. Each pillar plays a significant role in your optimal health journey, and using tools and services from each of the pillars can greatly enhance and expedite your path to success.
William Manzi, CEP, is an exercise physiologist who specializes in the ability to take care of any individual, regardless of any limitations. Having worked with cardiac patients for the past 5 years, Will has developed a speciality in cardiac training and rehabilitation, as well as reading EKGs.