- Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide: no other cause of death results in as many people dying each year as from CVDs.
- An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2016, representing 31% of all deaths worldwide. 85% of these deaths were caused by heart attack and stroke.
- More than 75% of deaths from CVDs occur in low- and middle-income countries.
- Of the 17 million deaths from non-communicable diseases under the age of 70, 82% occur in low- and middle-income countries, and 37% are caused by CVDs.
- Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol through population-wide strategies.
- People suffering from or at high risk of CVDs (due to one or more risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or an already developed disease) need early detection and assistance through counselling and, if necessary, medication.
What are cardiovascular diseases?
Cardiovascular diseases are a group of heart and blood vessel diseases that include:
- Coronary heart disease is a disease of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle;
- Brain vascular disease – a disease of the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain;
- Peripheral artery disease – a disease of blood vessels supplying blood to arms and legs;
- Rheumocarditis – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic attacks caused by streptococcal bacteria;
- congenital heart defect – existing since the birth of the deformation of the heart structure;
- Deep vein thrombosis and lung embolism – the formation of blood clots in the leg veins that can move and move to the heart and lungs.
Heart attacks and strokes are usually acute illnesses and occur mainly as a result of clogging of blood vessels, which prevents blood flow to the heart or brain. The most common cause of this is the formation of fat deposits on the inner walls of blood vessels that supply blood to the heart or brain.
Bleeding from a blood vessel in the brain or a blood clot can also cause a stroke. Myocardial infarction and stroke are usually caused by a combination of risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, high blood pressure, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia.
What are the risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
The main risk factors for heart disease and stroke are poor nutrition, physical inertia, tobacco use and harmful alcohol use.
Behavioural risk factors can include increased blood pressure, increased blood glucose levels, increased blood lipids, and overweight and obesity. These “intermediate risk factors” can be assessed in primary health care settings and may indicate an increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure and other complications.
It has been shown that cessation of tobacco use, reduction of salt consumption, consumption of fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity and prevention of harmful use of alcohol reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, drug therapy may be necessary to reduce the risk of CVDs and prevent heart attacks and strokes in diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated lipid levels.
In order to increase people’s motivation to choose and maintain healthy behaviours, health policies are needed to create an enabling environment for healthy choices and their affordability.
In order for people to choose and maintain healthy behaviours, policies are needed to create an environment conducive to healthy choices, their accessibility and affordability.
There are also a number of factors that influence the development of chronic diseases, or underlying causes. They reflect the main drivers of social, economic and cultural change – globalization, urbanization and population ageing. Other determinants of the SKDs are poverty, stress and inheritance factors.
What are the general symptoms of cardiovascular disease?
Symptoms of heart attack and stroke
The underlying blood vessel disease is often asymptomatic. A heart attack or stroke may be the first warning of the disease. Symptoms of a heart attack include
- Pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest;
- Pain or discomfort in the hands, left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back.
In addition, the person may have difficulty breathing or lack of air; nausea or vomiting; feel dizzy or unconscious; be covered in cold sweat and become pale. Women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back and jaw pain.
The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness in the face, usually on one side, arm or leg. Other symptoms include sudden numbness of the face, especially on one side, arm or leg; confusion; difficulty speaking or understanding speech; difficulty seeing with one or two eyes; difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; severe headache for no apparent reason; and loss of consciousness or memory.
People who experience these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
What’s rheumatic heart disease?
Rheumocarditis is the damage to heart valves and heart muscle caused by inflammation and scarring caused by rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is caused by an abnormal reaction to streptococcal infection. The disease usually begins with sore throat or tonsillitis in children.
Rheumatic attacks mainly affect children in developing countries, especially in situations of widespread poverty. Worldwide, almost 2% of all cardiovascular deaths are associated with rheumatic heart disease.