In May 2012, world leaders saw the need to raise awareness of CV health and so they began to mark the 29th of every September as World Heart Day in a bid to conscientize people on how important it is to look after the heart and prevent cardiovascular disease CVD. World Heart Day is a global campaign during which individuals, families, communities, and governments around the world participate in activities to take charge of their heart health and that of others. This year’s celebration has been themed (use❤️to connect)USE HEART TO CONNECT.
What is CVD
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and they include:
- Coronary heart disease – a disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle
- Cerebrovascular disease – a disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain;
- Peripheral arterial disease – a disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs;
- Rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria;
- Congenital heart disease – malformations of heart structure existing at birth;
- Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs
Heart attacks and strokes are extreme events that happen when the cardiovascular problem has gone out of proportion. And this is caused as a result of a blockage in the blood flow from excess fatty deposits in the inner blood vessels that supply blood to the brain or heart. There are however other causes of strokes and heart issues that go beyond fatty deposits. Heart diseases are deadly but they can also be prevented by making certain lifestyle changes.
Symptoms of CVD include
- Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and chest discomfort (angina)
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
- Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
- Easily tiring during exercise or activity
- Changes in your heart rhythm, the heart should work silently in the background once it begins to palpitate or have irregular beats then you should watch it.
When is the right time to see the Doctor?
when you begin to have chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting and dizziness. It is also advisable to regularly check your blood pressure, pulse and heart rate.
What are the causes of Cardiovascular Disease and who is at risk?
- Heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects), it doesn’t happen often but sadly people are born with defects and heart problems can be part of it.
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Excessive use of alcohol or caffeine
- Drug abuse
- Some over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies
- Valvular heart disease.
In times past high blood pressure and heart problems were linked to old age from about 50 years and a high level of stress but this doesn’t seem to be the case alone anymore. These are some high-risk categories;
- CVD is most common in people over 50 and your risk of developing it increases as you get older, ageing remains the main trigger of cardiovascular health issues.
- Men are more likely to develop CVD at an earlier age than women
- In my last article, I wrote about fruits to include in your diet, an unhealthy diet can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure that results in unhealthy weight.
- Alcohol – Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and contribute to weight gain.
- A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age (before age 55 for a male relative, such as your brother or father, and 65 for a female relative, such as your mother or sister).
How to prevent CVD
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Endeavour to have good hours of sleep
- Manage your stress levels
- Limit your alcohol intake and as much as you can avoid smoking
- And most importantly eat healthy whole foods and vegetables.
In the spirit of the celebration of 29th September, the world heart day, share this information with someone you know and love. Let’s create more awareness about this day, you may just be saving a heart today. Please stay healthy and don’t forget this year’s theme is USE HEART TO CONNECT