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How to prevent cardiovascular disease

How to prevent cardiovascular disease

Identifying and controlling risk factors is essential for preventing cardiovascular disease. Early detection and action are essential to reduce potential complications. Adopting and maintaining healthy habits from an early age and following regular medical supervision are your best contribution.

To prevent this, the best thing is to know what they are. Cardiovascular diseases affect the circulatory system, that is, the heart and blood vessels: arteries, veins and capillaries. This group includes serious diseases such as coronary artery disease – which can cause myocardial infarction – and cerebral artery disease, which can cause stroke.

As we know, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Its prevalence is increasing and it appears at increasingly earlier ages. The good news is that the situation can be changed, as it can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle and regular medical monitoring.

It is associated with a group of risk factors: conditions that, if present, increase the likelihood of the onset and development of the disease. These factors can be classified into modifiable and non-modifiable.

Modifiable risk factors are those in which we can intervene: it is the best way to prevent these diseases. They include smoking, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia or high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight and obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and excessive alcohol consumption. All factors interact with and reinforce each other, increasing risk.

The need for preventive intervention gains further emphasis when we add non-modifiable risk factors, that is, those that cannot be controlled and are not subject to correction: age, personal and family history of infectious diseases, as well as environmental risk factors, which include stress and pollution.

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We have the potential to make some choices that can affect the likelihood of these diseases occurring, so preventing cardiovascular disease is essential.

Following healthy eating habits – such as eating more fruits, vegetables, fiber and fish, and reducing the consumption of fat, sugar and alcohol, as well as engaging in regular physical activity, at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week – is key and its prevention, i.e. avoiding the onset of diabetes and obesity.

High cholesterol reflects a large accumulation of fat within the arteries, leading to myocardial infarction or promoting stroke. Prevention includes eating lean meats, choosing olive oil instead of oil, and low-fat dairy products.

In high blood pressure, blood flows with too much pressure inside the arteries, which can damage their walls. About 40% of Portuguese adults suffer from high blood pressure and some of them are not aware of their problem. You can prevent this by reducing the amount of salt you eat, and replacing it with aromatic herbs when cooking.

Tobacco contributes to the hardening of the walls of the arteries and reducing their elasticity, leading to the development of atherosclerosis – which again leads to myocardial infarction or stroke. Quit Smoking; Seek help from a professional if you cannot do it on your own.

Global cardiovascular disease risk implies attention to all risk factors at the same time – not each factor individually. It is important to follow up regularly with your doctor so that your risks can be assessed in a personalized way, and an individual intervention plan can be developed that favors the control of all modifiable risk factors. It is recommended that these consultations be conducted by doctors specialized in internal medicine and cardiology. These assessments can also be completed with the involvement of endocrinologists, pulmonologists, nutritionists and other health professionals.

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Identifying and controlling risk factors is essential for preventing cardiovascular disease. Early detection and taking necessary measures are essential to reduce the complications that may arise from it. Adopting and maintaining healthy habits from an early age and following regular medical supervision are the best contributions to cardiovascular health.

Internal Medicine Specialist at CUF Porto Hospital