The cardiovascular system includes the human heart, blood vessels, and blood. It’s also known as the circulatory system. The system’s function is to transport blood throughout the body to provide nutrients and oxygen and remove wastes like carbon dioxide. The words “cardiovascular” is derived from the Greek word that means “heart” as well as the Latin word that means “small vessel.”
As with other vital organs in the body, there are cardiovascular effects that can boost the risk of cardiovascular and stroke. Several risk factors can’t be modified like family history. However, others such as high blood pressure could be reduced through treatments.
If you have one risk factor, does it mean you’ll get heart disease? It doesn’t, but if you have multiple risk factors, there’s a greater chance of acquiring it. The way you can reduce your chance of cardiovascular disease is changing the risk factors and preventing them. It will help to boost your heart health.
Modifiable Risk Factors
- Physical Activity
The world has become more urbanized and automated, which has reduced the amount of physical activity that people do. The United Nations’ World Health Organization reports that over 60% of the world’s total population isn’t active enough. Even if you’ve inherited risk factors related to heart diseases boosting your physical activity can help to boost your lifespan, physical activity can help to protect the body from several serious health problems including several types of heart disease.
How does it do that? Physical activity protects humans by regulating body weight and helping the body use insulin more effectively. Being physically active can provide several benefits including:
- blood pressure
- glucose levels
- blood lipid levels
- blood vessel health
- blood clotting issues
Doing 2.5 hours of moderate exercise weekly or 1 hour of physical activity daily can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by around 30%.
Diet is important in helping to prevent cardiovascular disease. In fact, it’s one of the biggest risk factors. A diet that’s high in saturated fat boosts the risks of stroke/heart disease. Bad diet is estimated to cause around 30% of heart disease worldwide.
If you want to help prevent cardiovascular disease, you should eat low saturated fats and lots of fresh fruits/veggies. Studies show that this type of diet in developed countries can reduce the risk of new heart attacks by nearly three-quarters. There are various types of foods to watch out for, but some of the main ones include fat, sodium, and alcohol.
There’s tons of evidence showing that tobacco can be deadly. In fact, smoking has been linked to cancer and heart disease since the 1940s. Since then researchers have discovered cigarettes and cigars can result in several other serious illnesses and death. However, it’s interesting that the majority of US smokers don’t think their risk of heart disease is greater than nonsmokers. Another issue is second-hand smoking can also boost a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
How does it happen? There are several ways smoking promotes the risk of cardiovascular disease. It boosts fatty deposits in arteries, damages the blood vessel lining, boosts bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol, raises blood clotting, and promotes artery spasms.
Obesity is becoming a global problem and results in higher risks of conditions like cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes. Studies show that there are 400 million adults globally who are obese and 1 billion who are overweight. Also, 17.6 million kids under 5-year-olds are overweight.
A big change resulted in the second half of the 1900s since people moved away from plant-based diets to high-fat diets. Another problem was becoming less physically active. An irony is that many developing countries now have the problems of malnutrition and obesity. People whose body mass index (BMI) is over 25 are classified as overweight.
- Blood Lipids
High blood levels of lipids (fats) are another big risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol is found in the lipids of the human bloodstream and all the body’s cells. It’s needed for cell membranes/hormones. Cholesterol can be assumed from foods like meat, eggs, milk, and oils. Things called lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood. Bad cholesterol called LDL can increase the risk of heart disease since when it removes cholesterol away from the blood.
Non-Modifiable Risk Factors
There are also several risk factors of heart disease that are non-modifiable:
- Family History
In the case that a male relative (first degree) like father or brother has had a heart attack before the age of 55 or female relative (first-degree) has had one before the age of 65 you’re at a greater risk of having heart disease. Meanwhile, if both of your parents have acquired heart disease before the age of 55, the risk of developing heart disease rises 50% compared to the total population.
If your first-degree relatives have also had strokes, it increases your risk as well. The risk is higher for women and when their mother had a stroke. There would be a greater chance if your first-degree relative had a stroke at a young age.
There are various inherited factors like high cholesterol levels. When this condition is inherited it results in a buildup of “bad” cholesterol in the blood that can result in heart disease. Other inherited factors include type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Diabetes patients are up to 4x more likely to have heart disease than non-diabetics. Heart disease is the top cause of death among people with diabetes. There are several reasons the risk of cardiovascular disease is high. They include high blood lipids, high blood pressure, and obesity. All of these symptoms are more common among people with diabetes.
Today heart disease is the top cause of death among men and women in the US. It’s estimated the disease kills about one-quarter of American each year.
Heart disease has been a major health condition for centuries. In 2009 the American Heart Association (AHA) showed results that Egyptian mummies about 3,500 years old showed signs of a type of heart disease that narrows arteries. About half of the mummies studied showed signs of cardiovascular disease.
It’s tough to determine when humans first discovered coronary artery disease. However, it’s interesting that Leonardo da Vinci studied coronary arteries. However, the physician William Harvey who lived in the 1500s/1600s learned how blood moves out of the heart and back. Later a German professor named Friedrich Hoffmann discovered the cause of coronary heart disease.
There were many developments in the research about heart disease in the 1900s.The American Heart Association was launched in 1915. Soon afterward they designed a test for coronary artery disease. Major findings were also made by the Portuguese doctor Egas Moniz and Germany doctor Werner Forssman. Meanwhile, the first major study on heart disease was done in 1948 by the National Health Institute.
- Heart failure
- Limited ability to exercise
- Chest pain/pressure
- Higher heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Heparin (various)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
- Acebutolol (Sectral)
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Betaxolol (Kerlone)
- Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
- Bisoprolol/hydrochlorothiazide (Ziac)
- Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
- Nadolol (Corgard)
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Sotalol (Betapace)
- Cholesterol-lowering meds
Diet is a critical part of a generally healthy lifestyle. The diet should include fruits, vegetables, and grains. Other important foods include chicken, seafood, soy, seeds, nuts, and beans. The foods should also be prepared with low amounts of salt and fat to make them as healthy as possible.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important. It’s important to start a weight-loss program if you have problems with overweight or obesity. It can include more physical activity and lower calorie intake. Other options include smaller portions and eating several small meals per day.
Being physically active can help to lower various factors of heart disease. That includes high blood pressure, overweight/obesity, and high LDL cholesterol. Regular physical exercise can also provide various health benefits. That includes higher HDL cholesterol, lower diabetes risk, etc. It’s important to exercise every day when possible and moderate/high-intensity exercise can produce the best health results faster.
It’s important to quit smoking since it can boost the chance of heart disease and heart attacks. Various programs/products can help people to quit. It’s also important to avoid second-hand smoke when possible.
Studies show that stress and anger can cause a heart attack. The ways people deal with stress like drinking/smoking/overheating can also cause worse heart health and boost the chance of heart disease and heart attacks. Various relaxation techniques work like meditation, yoga, and massage.
There are various procedures and surgery that can be used to treat heart disease. Treatments include CABG and angioplasty. It’s important to talk with your doctor about the best options for you. It is important to pick the right ones for your particular situation.
10. Drug Abuse of Heart Medications
Various heart disease medications could become additive including blood pressure meds. One of the main reasons if you’re required to take blood pressure pills you’re required to keep taking them. Consider the fact that patients are always told not to stop taking their blood pressure pills.
It’s important to note that the goal of blood pressure pills is just maintenance. It’s like dealing with the air pressure in car tires. The heart runs better if you take blood pressure pills. However, the heart doesn’t become addicted to the pills.
A cardiologist can help to determine the best medications you should take to help control your heart rate. There are also generic versions. It can provide the same features of the original meds but provide them at a lower price. It is a plus.
It’s also important to note that there are other ways to control your blood pressure besides meds. For example, there are some unwanted side-effects related to such pills. Another option is to make lifestyle changes. That includes eating healthy, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and so on. These are good options if you’re looking for a holistic way to lower your heart rate without taking pills with powerful chemicals.
However, there’s always a chance you could become addicted to various types of heart disease meds. So it’s important to know the risks and signs of prescription drug addiction. That will give you the chance to get treatments.
11. Drug Rehab/Recovery for Heart Medications
There are various negative effects of prescription drug abuse. If you’re already dealing with heart issues like heart disease, it’s something you’ll want to avoid because it can make your situation even worse. If you’re addicted to prescription drugs, you might need rehab to get off the meds safely and stay off them in the long-term. There are also some people who require detoxification before rehab. It is especially true when the addiction includes certain types of drugs. Those drugs can cause serious physical/mental health issues without the right care.
There are various types of heart drugs that can become addictive. They include opiates, which are in fact one of the most addictive drugs on the market. The good news is there are various rehab/recovery programs available that can help to deal effectively with your addiction to prescription drugs.
That, in turn, will allow you to focus on dealing with your heart disease problems. This health condition can be tough enough due to various factors related to symptoms, treatments, etc. If you’re able to deal with an addiction to your heart meds, you can then focus on dealing with heart disease. In the case you or someone you know might be candidates for drug addiction, it’s important to be evaluated to determine if you have an addiction or dependency based on the drugs you’re taking. If that’s the case, then you can start getting treatments and start dealing with the problem in the most effective way possible.