Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are illnesses of the blood vessels or heart or both conditions which influence the cardiovascular system. Having various forms, these diseases are leading cause of death in the developing and developed countries. Moreover, cardiovascular diseases often result in disability, particularly amid people who survive a stroke or myocardial infarction. Among the variety of risk factors, associated with CVD, age, ethnicity, and family history cannot be changed. However, tobacco exposure, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity can be treated. This paper discusses three of the most common risk factors, associated with the development of cardiovascular disease, and presents a primary preventive educational plan for patients with heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is mainly the result of interactions amid modifiable risk factors that are common in developed countries and that are of increasing concern in developing ones. It is a leading reason for death with millions of people die annually as cardiovascular disease comprises approximately a third part of all deaths worldwide each year.
According to the American Heart Association, one of the most controllable risk factors of CVD is diabetes that leads to death in adults from two to four times more often that in people without it (2015, para 1). In addition, about 68 % of patients with diabetes older than 65 years old die from heart disease and 16 % of them from stroke (American Heart Association, 2015, para 1). Diabetes is an illness that increases the level of sugar in the blood of human organisms. As human body needs sugar (glucose) for energy, there is a hormone, called insulin, which is made in the pancreas and which helps move glucose from consumed food to the body’s cells. A person with the diabetes does not make enough insulin, and thus, cannot use his/her own insulin in the appropriate way. When people do not control their level of diabetes, they develop cardiovascular disease more often during their earlier age than the others. As a result, this disease will have more devastating outcomes. If a patient is a pre-menopausal woman, her diabetes cancels the protective impact of estrogen, and the risk of heart disease increases significantly (World Heart Federation, 2016). In cases the glucose levels are controlled, the diabetes significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart disease. The reason for it is that patients with diabetes, especially type 2, can have other health conditions that contribute to the high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The most common of them are obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), and abnormal cholesterol.
Obesity has been closely associated with insulin resistance. Lack of physical activity is one of the leading reasons for obesity that also predisposes an individual to diabetes. The increased risk of overweight is mostly marked when the excessive fat is concentrated mainly in the abdomen than on the thighs and hips (Buttaro, Trybulski, Bailey, & Sandberg-Cook, 2013). Thus, weight loss is essential for patients with extra kilos as it can decrease cardiovascular risk and lower insulin concentration as well as increase insulin sensitivity. Obesity and insulin resistance also have been associated with high blood pressure.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is the main risk factor in cardiovascular disease. This medical condition occurs in cases the pressure of the blood in the arteries as well as the other blood vessels is very high. If an individual does not control the high pressure, it can affect the person’s heart and other main organs, including brain and kidneys. As a lot of people do not notice the symptoms and signs which signal high blood pressure, it is often called “a silent killer” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, para 3). Therefore, decrease in the blood pressure by changing human lifestyle or using medication can lower the risks for heart disease or stroke.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance which the liver produces or which can be found in certain food. When people take more cholesterol than the human body uses, the extra amount of it can accumulate in such places as the walls of the arteries, including the heart. Such outcomes lead to narrowing the arteries and decreasing the blood flow to the brain, heart, kidneys as well as the other parts of the person’s organism. High cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein or low levels of high-density lipoprotein can raise the risk of both heart disease and stroke (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). Thus, practicing a healthy diet, exercising, and proper medication can modify person’s blood lipid profile.
Patients who have yet to develop heart disease need to apply certain strategies for its primary prevention. Firstly, these patients should maintain a healthy weight, practice physical activity on the daily basis, and refuse to smoke. Secondly, it is important to enlarge the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from plant of fish sources and keep a diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Thirdly, lowering refined grains, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding sugary and salty food are also essential steps in following the current educational plan to reduce the level of cardiovascular disease.
In conclusion, among the variety of risk factors in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are the most common conditions, leading to heart disease and stroke. Nevertheless, their management and monitoring through primary care-linked initiatives and preventable educational plans with suggested strategies can support healthy lifestyles and reduce developing cardiovascular diseases.
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