What are Cardiovascular Diseases?

21/11/2012 12:49

The World Health Organisation Fact Sheet January 2011 has stated that cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death globally. More people die annually from cardiovascular diseases then from any other causes. There is an estimated 17.1 million people who died from cardiovascular diseases in 2004, representing 29% of all global deaths. In other words, one in three deaths was attributable to cardiovascular diseases. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.2 million (42%) was due to coronary artery disease and 5.7 million (34%) was due to stroke.

Many people think that cardiovascular disease is just a heart attack. This is a misconception. The term “cardiovascular diseases” encompasses a group of medical conditions that affect the heart and the blood vessels of the human body including the brain, arms and legs.

In Singapore, by far the most common cardiovascular diseases are coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease (stroke). Blockages of the coronary arteries will lead to heart attack and blockages of the blood vessels to the brain will result in stroke. 

In Summary
It is important to note that heart diseases include a whole range of heart conditions. Heart attack and stroke are preventable and it begins with lifestyle changes that include a healthy diet, regular physical exercise, avoiding tobacco smoking and stress management. A healthy diet should include choosing diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, oat, wheat and bran and avoiding foods that contain high fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sugar (carbohydrates) and salts. Reduction in calories to maintain a healthy body weight is also important. Regular exercise program to burn off the excess calories will have significant benefits. Avoid tobacco smoking and also avoid areas where are other people smoking (i.e “second-hand smoking”). 

Cardiovascular risk factors screening programs are widely available in Singapore and you should undergo a cardiovascular screening program. You may use the following checklist as a guide to access if one is in the high risk group.

Medical History 

  • Previous history of heart attack

  • Established coronary artery disease

  • Prior history of recgnition of a heart murmur

  • History of syncope (fainting spells)

Family History

  • Family history of sudden death, i.e. Family history of premature deaths that are sudden or unecpected before the age of 50 years old due to heart disease in ≥ 1 relative

  • Family history of premature coronary artery disease

Coronary Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes mellitus

  • Overweight — obesity

  • Smoking

  • Excessive drinking

  • High cholesterol

Symptoms

  • Exertional chest pain / discomfort

  • Excessive exertional / unexplained breathlessness
    and fatigue associated with exercise

  • Unexplained fainting or near-fainting episodes

  • Swelling of the legs

Cardiovascular diseases are the #1 cause of death. Parkway Heart & Vascular Centre can diagnose your vascular disease & heart disease symptoms before it's too late. http://www.phvc.sg/heart-diseases.html