What Is Cardiovascular Disease? What Causes Cardiovascular Disease?Main Category: Cardiovascular / Cardiology
Also Included In: Hypertension | Stroke | Heart Disease
Article Date: 11 Mar 2013
Cardiovascular diseases include illnesses that involve the blood vessels (veins, arteries and capillaries) or the heart, or both - diseases that affect the cardiovascular system.
The cardiovascular system, also called the circulatory system, is the system that moves blood throughout the human body. It is composed of the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries. It transports oxygenated blood from the lungs and heart throughout the whole body through the arteries. Blood goes through the capillaries - vessels situated between the veins and arteries.
When the blood has been depleted of oxygen, it makes its way back to the heart and lungs through the veins.
The circulatory system may also include the circulation of lymph, which is essentially recycled blood plasma after it has been filtered from the blood cells and returned to the lymphatic system. The cardiovascular system does not include the lymphatic system. In this article, the circulatory system does not include the circulation of lymph.
According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, cardiovascular means:
"Relating to the heart and the blood vessels or the circulation."
The human circulatory system (anterior view)
Examples of diseases that affect the cardiovascular system
What are the risk factor for cardiovascular disease?A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing a disease, disorder or condition. Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes
Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reported in JAMA that the lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease is more than 50% for both men and women. They added that even among those with few or no cardiovascular risk factors, the risk is still more than 30%.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, there are nine main risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, they are:
Experts agree that the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease are atherosclerosis and/or hypertension.
What is the health burden of cardiovascular disease worldwide?According to WHO (World Health Organization):
Cardiovascular disease prevention in adultsReducing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease involves addressing the risk factors listed above, i.e. eating a healthy diet, doing plenty of exercise, achieving a healthy body weight and then maintaining it, and not smoking.
For people with cardiovascular disease, cocoa flavanols may be a vital part of a healthy diet, researchers from the University of California San Francisco reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).
If you drink alcohol, do not exceed the recommended daily limits of 2 to 3 units per day for women and 3 to 4 for men.
Cardiovascular disease prevention in childrenResearch has shown that lesions can appear in the aortas and right coronary arteries of children as young as 7 to 9 years of age.
Bad habits during childhood will not lead to cardiovascular disease while the person is a child, but a trend sets in that establishes the accumulation of problems that continue into adulthood, resulting in a much greater probability of having a cardiovascular disease later in life.
Children who eat a lot of salt have a much higher risk of hypertension when they are adults, as well as heart disease and stroke. Parents should also keep a close eye on how much saturated fat and sugar a child consumes.
A child, if given the right environment, is naturally physically active. In our modern society, kids spend a great deal of time watching TV, playing video games, and being chauffeured around by their parents. Something their grandparent rarely or never did when they were small.
UK health authorities say that children aged five or less who are able to walk unaided should be physically active for at least three hours each day - these hours should be spread out.
Children aged from 5 to 18 years should do at least one hour of aerobic activity daily - their activities should include a range of intensities, from the equivalent of fast-walking to running.
Swedish scientists reported that healthy children can start to show a greater risk of future heart problems if they are physically inactive.
Does aspirin protect from cardiovascular disease?Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) is a medication that is generally used as an analgesic (painkiller that does not produce anesthesia or loss of consciousness) for minor pains; it is also used as an antipyretic (to reduce fever) and as an anti-inflammatory.
Aspirin has also become more and more popular as an antiplatelet - to prevent blood-clot formation. High-risk patients take it in low doses to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
Aspirin is also given to patients after a heart attack to prevent cardiac tissue death or heart attack recurrence.
A major problem posed by aspirin therapy for patients at risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events is major bleeding. A considerable proportion of patients with diabetes have a high rate of major bleeding, regardless of their therapeutic aspirin status.
There have been literally hundreds of studies on the benefits, harms and inefficacy of aspirin over the last twenty years. While some have shown benefits for the cardiovascular system, especially among patients with existing conditions, others have concluded that healthy people should not take regular low-dose aspirin.
Below are links to some studies on the benefits and harms of aspirin for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and events:
Copyright: MediLexicon International Ltd
Original article posted on Medical News Today.
Articles not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today