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
However, the study
also mentions that the overall risk of heart
is set to decline in Canada in the next 7 years.
'Our results suggest
that, except for obesity
, 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.
- 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
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
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?