Have you ever wondered, “Why is there such a hue and cry about heart diseases and more so, why is it much more now than a decade or two ago?”
The disease burden
Diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as heart attack, stroke and hypertension, known as cardiovascular diseases, are not only claiming more and more lives across the globe but are also posing an acute threat to the economic development of our subcontinent. While the statistics can make you dizzy, all you need to know is cardiovascular disease is the Number 1 killer disease amongst men and women today. The rising incidence of health problems like diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity, combined with harmful behaviors like smoking, alcoholism, unhealthy diet, inadequate physical activity and high stress levels are contributing equally if not more to this health crisis.
Cardiovascular diseases are multifactorial in origin, meaning there are several environmental and biological factors causing them. Though you might not be exactly sure what caused you or your loved one(s) to acquire the disease, you can be very sure of one thing: The lifestyle choices you make on a daily basis play a major role in causing as well as controlling the disease. There is therefore an urgent need to spread awareness about the risk factors and empower people with ways and means to better manage their health.
The risk factors can be broadly classified into modifiable (those that can be modified by us) and non-modifiable (those that our beyond our control) factors.
Modifiable risk factors
- Hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol levels)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Diabetes (elevated blood sugar levels)
- Overweight and Obesity
- Physical inactivity
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Psychosocial factors (such as chronic stress, anxiety, depression etc.)
Non-modifiable risk factors
- Hereditary factors (genetic predisposition that runs in families)
- Ethnicity (racial factors)
I personally believe that the non-modifiable risk factors can also be modified but let’s save that for another day.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
You would be surprised if I told you that your diabetes, hypertension and heart condition could be reversed. A healthy lifestyle characterized by regular physical exercise, balanced nutrition, and positive and healthy mindset is the building block for prevention and reversal of all cardiovascular diseases. While medical and surgical interventions are critical, addressing the risk factors by making the necessary changes to your lifestyle will go a long way in improving quality of life and keeping complications at bay.
A cardiac rehabilitation program is something you (and your family) should consider if you have had a heart attack, angioplasty or stent procedure, bypass surgery or other heart surgeries. Keep reading my blog entries for more useful info.