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Diabetes Talks

What are cardiovascular diseases?

Time: 2023-03-16 Hits: 98

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. They include:


*Coronary heart disease – a disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle;

*Cerebrovascular disease – a disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain;

*Peripheral arterial disease – a disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs;

*Rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria;

*Congenital heart disease – birth defects that affect the normal development and functioning of the heart caused by malformations of the heart structure from birth; and

*Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.

Heart attacks and strokes are usually acute events and are mainly caused by a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the heart or brain. The most common reason for this is a build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels that supply the heart or brain. Strokes can be caused by bleeding from a blood vessel in the brain or from blood clots.


What are the risk factors for cardiovascular disease?

The most important behavioural risk factors of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. The effects of behavioural risk factors may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, raised blood glucose, raised blood lipids, and overweight and obesity. These “intermediate risks factors” can be measured in primary care facilities and indicate an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other complications.


Cessation of tobacco use, reduction of salt in the diet, eating more fruit and vegetables, regular physical activity and avoiding harmful use of alcohol have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Health policies that create conducive environments for making healthy choices affordable and available are essential for motivating people to adopt and sustain healthy behaviours.

There are also a number of underlying determinants of CVDs. These are a reflection of the major forces driving social, economic and cultural change – globalization, urbanization and population ageing. Other determinants of CVDs include poverty, stress and hereditary factors.


In addition, drug treatment of hypertension, diabetes and high blood lipids are necessary to reduce cardiovascular risk and prevent heart attacks and strokes among people with these conditions. 

What are common symptoms of cardiovascular diseases?

Symptoms of heart attacks and strokes

Often, there are no symptoms of the underlying disease of the blood vessels. A heart attack or stroke may be the first sign of underlying disease. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

*Pain or discomfort in the centre of the chest; and/or

*Pain or discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back.

In addition the person may experience difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; light-headedness or faintness; a cold sweat; and turning pale. Women are more likely than men to have shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness of the face, arm, or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include sudden onset of:

*Numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body;

*Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech;

*Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes;

*Difficulty walking, dizziness and/or loss of balance or coordination;

*Severe headache with no known cause; and/or

*Fainting or unconsciousness.


People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

sources from who.int & addmoretolives.com