In the United States of America, a person dies every 37 seconds because of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines allow you to take your health into your own hands. We also hear the term “heart disease” often associated with this disease, and this heart condition is the leading cause of death for men and women, according to the CDC.
Understanding the basics of cardiovascular disease, the risk factors, and how to prevent this illness is necessary for every adult. Early action is the key to minimizing your risk. Working with your medical team before you have signs and symptoms can help with prevention.
The Basics of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is part of a class of diseases involving the heart and blood vessels. Although people are most often talking about heart attacks, stroke, and coronary artery disease when they speak of cardiovascular disease, there are many other illnesses also considered part of this larger disease category.
Cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines often include all of these illnesses because it is thought that 90% of these are preventable:
- Coronary artery disease
- Myocardial infarction
- Heart failure
- Hypertensive heart disease
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Congenital heart disease
- Valvular heart disease
- Aortic Aneurysms
- Peripheral artery disease
- Thromboembolic disease
- Venous thrombosis
There are numerous risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Some of these factors cannot be changed, like a person’s ethnicity, age or family history. According to the American Heart Association, there are major risk factors that you can modify to help manage cardiovascular disease before or after diagnosis. These include:
- Stop smoking
- Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
- Increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
- Lower triglycerides
- Lower high blood pressure
- Increase physical activity
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Control diabetes
- Reduce stress factors
Who is Most Often Diagnosed?
Men are at a greater risk than women when it comes to being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Men’s risk significantly climbs after the age of 45, and by age 85, about 7 in 100 men are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Children of parents with cardiovascular disease are also at a greater risk of developing the disease. African-Americans have a more severe risk, as do Mexican-Americans, American Indians, and native Hawaiians. Many of these race-related risk factors are also associated with higher rates of obesity and diabetes.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
There are a few important symptoms to watch out for, no matter what your medical or family history is. Symptoms associated with cardiovascular disease include:
- Chest pain
- Chest tightness
- Pressure or discomfort of the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, weakness, or coldness in arms or legs
- Pain in the neck, upper abdomen, jaw or throat
- Pain in the upper back
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical assistance right away. These symptoms could be early cardiovascular disease signs, or they could be something else. Only your medical team can assess you for these. You may not even know you are at risk of cardiovascular disease when symptoms arise, so it is essential you are aware of these possible symptoms.
Top Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Guidelines
The first line of defense against cardiovascular disease is your primary care medical provider. They will help you identify your risk factors and put together a plan of prevention that best fits your medical history, family history, and current health.
Medical providers have a new set of cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines they are working from. These guidelines are there to help reduce your chances of heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and heart failure. Medical providers will use these guidelines when working with you:
- Promote a healthy lifestyle throughout life without age limits.
- Adults over 40 years of age will complete the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk estimation assessment.
- Emphasize a diet that is heavy on vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and lean protein.
- Promote a reduction in red meat consumption, refined carbohydrates, and sweetened beverages.
- Adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity.
- Patients with type 2 diabetes will be assessed for the use of metformin as well as improving dietary habits and exercise recommendations.
- Adults will be assessed for tobacco use on every visit and encouraged to quit.
- Aspirin no longer recommended as a routine prevention.
- Non Pharmacological interventions are the first line of treatment for hypertension patients unless otherwise indicated by history.
These guidelines build on previous lifestyle guidelines. According to Roger Blumenthal, M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medicine, “The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology haven’t had comprehensive guidelines like these before that target the patient as well as the health care provider.” The new focus of medical care for cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines is the shared relationship between the doctor and the patient. These guidelines are meant to open a discussion and promote decision making.
Guidelines are only a start for any medical professional in the fight against cardiovascular disease. Every individual also has home, work and educational considerations that the medical care provider has to take into account when working with their patient.
Cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines are ever-evolving in the hopes that one in three American’s will no longer die from the disease.
Our board-certified nurse practitioners will work with you during your medical appointment. Ask your provider if you have any of the risk factors and if there are any specific prevention tips that would work best for you. You can call us at 212-326-5705 to schedule your appointment today.