All evidence indicates that cardiovascular disease continues to be a top killer for Americans.
We’ve talked before about cardiovascular disease – heart disease – and some of the ways in which you can beat it. Today, let’s dig into the statistics about heart disease, and try to learn more about the underlying causes and what we can do about it.
Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, and it accounts for over 370,000 deaths out of the 610,000.
Additionally, about 790,000 Americans have a heart attack every year, and by far the most important cause is coronary artery disease.
These statistics are grim. What’s behind them?
2). Who is At Risk?
There are a number of different risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Three of the most important are 1) high blood pressure, 2) high cholesterol, and 3) smoking.
Some 49% of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. However, there are other risk factors which can also contribute significantly to cardiovascular disease: diabetes; being overweight or obese; having a poor diet; a lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol use.
Many of the above risk factors feed into high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, and thus may lead to cardiovascular disease.
3). Symptoms – What to Look For if You Might Have Cardiovascular Disease
Since cardiovascular disease describes a variety of conditions, there are a number of different symptoms to look for.
Some people experience pain, tightness, pressure, and discomfort in the chest, known as angina. Shortness of breath is another major symptom.
Sometimes people with heart disease suffer from pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in the legs or the arms – this happens when the blood vessels in those areas become narrowed.
People also experience neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, and back pain as a result of cardiovascular disease.
Whatever the case, if you or a loved one are suffering from any of these symptoms, seek professional medical advice.
Heart arrythmias are another cluster of symptoms. Fluttering in the chest, racing heartbeat, slow heartbeat, dizziness, and fainting or near fainting are a few symptoms you might experience if you have cardiovascular disease.
Whatever your symptoms, it’s a good idea to follow up with a doctor and get professional help. It’s in your best interest to make sure you catch heart disease as soon as possible for the best chances of treatment.
4). Treatment – How to Deal With Cardiovascular Disease
Taking a best-case scenario, if the patient’s condition is due to lifestyle issues rather than genetic issues and it is discovered early, lifestyle changes and perhaps a medication could result in a reversal of the issues causing the disease. In this scenario, it is easy to imagine that there would be no lasting damage.
In other cases, arteries blocked by plaque may require angioplasty, a surgery to open the arteries, or balloon valvuloplasty, a procedure which requires less cutting than traditional surgery. In more severe cases, heart bypass surgery may be necessary.
A procedure called cardioversion, or electrical cardioversion, uses electricity to restore normal rhythm in damaged heart muscle.
There are many other treatments for cardiovascular disease, and the treatment needed will depend on both the patient’s condition and how severe it is.
5). Prevention – Reducing Your Chances of Cardiovascular Disease
As frightening as cardiovascular disease is, there are a number of tried and true strategies for preventing it. Although some cases of heart disease are the result of congenital issues (birth defects), the vast majority are preventable because they are caused by lifestyle choices.
These same lifestyle choices can also play a very important role in helping to treat the condition.
As we saw above, smoking is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This points to one of the most important strategies for preventing cardiovascular disease: quitting smoking.
Controlling other, potentially contributing health conditions is another way in which to prevent cardiovascular disease. In particular, it is important to control high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, both through medications and healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Eating a diet that is heart-healthy – in particular, low in salt and not fattening – is another important step.
Maintaining physical activity is also an important preventive strategy.
The reason cardiovascular disease continues to tragically claim so many American lives is that too many Americans are not maintaining good health. Through good diet, a modest amount of physical activity, and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, most Americans can avoid cardiovascular disease.
Cigarettes increase blood pressure. Long-term high blood pressure adds to the risk of cancer.
Each cigarette starts a chemical chain reaction that results in carcinogenic compounds. The poisons in cigarette smoke weaken the immune system and damage DNA.
Smoking can both cause cancer, and damage cells so your body can’t fight it.
Lung cancer isn’t the only cancer smoking causes. The bloodstream absorbs the compounds from smoke and spreads them throughout the body.
Short-term Dangers of Combining Alcohol and Tobacco
Cigarettes and alcohol together create more risks than using either substance alone.
The primary risk is that alcohol is a depressant and tobacco is a stimulant. The nicotine in tobacco offsets the sedative aspects of alcohol.
If you smoke while drinking you may not realize how much alcohol affects your body. Poor assessment of inebriation leads to poor judgment and bad choices.
For example, you may continue to drink because you don’t feel drunk. Or, you might choose to drive your car.
Long-Term Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Tobacco
Mixing smoking and alcohol increases cancer in the mouth, throat, oesophagus, and colon. It’s no surprise that 80% of men and 65% of women with throat and mouth cancer combine smoking and drinking habits.
Studies suggest alcohol dissolves cigarette chemicals while they’re in the throat. That could trap carcinogens in the throat’s sensitive tissues.
Plus, smoking and drinking together slow metabolism. The carcinogens from the cigarettes stay in the bloodstream longer. Longer exposure to carcinogens increases the risk of cancer.
If you’re struggling with alcohol and tobacco abuse you can get help here.
Get Treatment for Tobacco and Alcohol Addiction
The fact that alcohol and tobacco are legal and accessible makes them easy to abuse. The effects of tobacco and alcohol mixed together are dangerous.
Abuse results in a shorter life span, respiratory problems, and higher risk for cancer. Rehab programs can help you end your addiction.
According to a new research, the risks of stroke, heart and circulatory disease are higher in areas with a lot of aircraft noise.
The new study of 3.6 million residents near Heathrow Airport suggested the risks were 10-20% higher in areas with the highest levels of aircraft noise.
The team’s findings are published in the British Medical Journal.
The researchers agreed with other experts that noise was not necessarily to blame and more work was needed.
The risks of stroke, heart and circulatory disease are higher in areas with a lot of aircraft noise
Their work suggests a higher risk for both hospital admissions and deaths from stroke, heart and circulatory disease for the 2% of the study – about 70,000 people – who lived where the aircraft noise was loudest.
The lead author, Dr. Anna Hansell, from Imperial College London, said: “The exact role that noise exposure may play in ill health is not well established.
“However, it is plausible that it might be contributing – for example, by raising blood pressure or by disturbing people’s sleep.”
“There’s a <<startle reaction>> to loud noise – if you’re suddenly exposed to it, the heart rate and blood pressure increase.
“And aircraft noise can be annoying for some people, which can also affect their blood pressure, leading to illness.
“The relative importance of daytime and night-time noise from aircraft also needs to be investigated further.”
The study used data about noise levels in 2001 from the Civil Aviation Authority, covering 12 London boroughs and nine districts outside of London where aircraft noise exceeds 50 decibels – about the volume of a normal conversation in a quiet room.
The authors say fewer people are now affected by the highest levels of noise (above 63 decibels) – despite more planes being in the skies – because of changes in aircraft design and flight plans.
The researchers – from Imperial and also King’s College London – adjusted their work in an effort to eliminate other factors that might have a relationship with stroke and heart disease, such as deprivation, South Asian ethnicity and smoking-related illness.
They stressed that the higher risk of illness related to aircraft noise remained much less significant than the risks from lifestyle factors – including smoking, a lack of exercise or poor diet.