Obesity is all set to overtake smoking as the most common cardiovascular disease risk factor by the year 2015, reveals a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
However, the study also mentions that the overall risk of heart disease is set to decline in Canada in the next 7 years.
Advertisement'Our results suggest that, except for obesity and diabetes, CVD risk factors will continue to decline in Canada. The prevalence of people with multiple CVD risk factors will remain low,' conclude the study researchers.
The study involved the incidence and analysis of 5 common risk factors for cardiovascular disease - diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity.
Let's look at these risk factors briefly.
1. Diabetes - Diabetes or even pre-diabetes can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. It is a disorder of metabolism in which pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the body cells do not use the insulin properly, or both. Central obesity, high cholesterol levels, smoking, and having high blood pressure increase your chances of developing diabetes. To prevent or delay heart disease associated with diabetes, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends -
Including a minimum of 14g of fiber daily for every 1000 calories consumed.
Reducing cholesterol intake to maximum of 300mg per day.
Cut down on saturated fats.
2. Hypertension - Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when the pressure in your arteries is more than the normal range, that is, the systolic pressure (upper reading) is more than 130 mmHg and your diastolic pressure (lower reading) is more than 80 mmHg. High blood pressure increases the risk of coronary artery disease, also called atherosclerosis, which in turns causes heart attacks. Changing your diet and lifestyle can help you manage hypertension.
Eat a balanced diet
Stay away from alcohol; if not, limit alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day
3. High cholesterol - Too much cholesterol in your blood causes atherosclerosis, the fore-runner of heart attack. You know you have high cholesterol, if your -
Total cholesterol is 240 and above
LDL is 190 and above
HDL is less than 40
Triglycerides is 200 to 500 (high) and more than 500 (very high)
4. Smoking - Smoking increases blood pressure and decreases HDL cholesterol; smoking increases the tendency for blood to clot; smoking decreases exercise tolerance, and very importantly, smoking increases risk for atherosclerosis.
5. Obesity - As with other factors, obesity too increases the risk for atherosclerosis. A 14-year study published in the journal Circulation revealed that middle-aged women with a BMI greater than 23 but less than 25 had a 50 percent increase in risk of nonfatal or fatal coronary heart disease, and men aged 40 to 65 years with a BMI greater than 25 but less than 29 had a 72 percent increased risk. Prevention of obesity by healthy diet and regular exercise is the highest priority for heart health, the researchers said.
All five risk factors are somehow inter-related and all lead to heart disease, especially atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is one of the most common diseases that causes heart attacks and strokes. An earlier study published in the journal Lancet clearly mentions that some degree of atherosclerosis (plaque in the artery walls causing thickening of the arteries) is almost universal. It is just a matter of time before one develops atherosclerosis, the study suggests. We can only try to prevent it from advancing faster than it should.
What do we do to prevent it? Quit smoking and exercise regularly, say cardiologists. And now you can add 'reduce weight' at the top of your to-do list for lowering heart disease risk. Also get treatment as soon as possible for heart disease risk factors. 'If your lipids are up or you have hypertension, take care of it. If you have problems with rhythm disturbances, that must be treated, too, because it impairs the ability of heart to pump efficiently,' says Dr. Donald LaVan, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.
So, are you ready to shed the extra pounds, eat healthy, quit smoking, and exercise regularly?