Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of chronic disease morbidity and mortality all over the world. Around 17.7 million people worldwide succumb to cardiovascular diseases every year.*
Cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of premature death, includes heart attacks, strokes, and other circulatory related diseases. Particularly shocking is the increased rate in heart attacks among young people. According to many studies all over the world, people aged 50 and younger have almost twice the risk of premature death after a heart attack. This is mainly due to the fact that our society is one that is becoming increasingly sedentary, more young people are exercising less, eating more, taking more stress in view of busy life styles and competition at the work places, smoking, drinking alcohol at higher rates than other age groups and not taking care of themselves as they should, resulting in the increased risk for heart attack.
So what can be done to prevent this? The most important thing anyone can do to lower the risk of developing heart disease and having a heart attack is to have :
- Awareness of the risk factors
The risk factors that can cause heart and other cardiovascular diseases, are generally classified into two groups:
Modifiable risk factors:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- High Sugar level
- Alcohol intake
- Physical Inactivity
Non-modifiable risk factors:
- Family history
Both Non modifiable and modifiable risk factors can increase the probability of developing CVD. Everyone will not necessarily develop cardiovascular disease if they have a risk factor. But, the more risk factors anyone have, the greater the likelihood that he or she will have, unless they take action to modify the risk factors and work to prevent them.
- Knowing the warning signs in the initial stages.
Majority of the heart diseases often develops over time. But, sometimes, it can be even sudden, if the heart beats goes erratic, disorganized either too fast or too slow, called as Arrhythmia. Early recognition of the warning signs or symptoms can alert us and help prevent a heart attack and cardiovascular diseases.
The symptoms and signs that we should not ignore include
- Chest pain/discomfort/uneasiness
- Heartburn/Upper gastric pain/indigestion/nausea/vomiting
- Pain in the left arm/both the arms with or without chest pain
- Throat pain like Chocking/Jaw pain
- Sudden onset upper chest back pain
- Breathlessness at rest/ breathlessness on exertion
- Palpitations/pounding heart
- Light headaches/Dizziness/Fainting
- Sweating without obvious reason, Persistent cough
- Swelling of the legs, feet and ankles
These warning symptoms or signs of heart disease may not be obvious always. In fact, a heart attack can actually happen without a person knowing it. It is called a silent heart attack, or medically referred to as silent ischemia. So, it is extremely important to go for regular heart checkups as advised by the doctor if there are any risk factors and especially those who have longstanding Diabetes Mellitus.
Aster Clinic, Al Qusais (Damascus Street)