Cardiovascular system Care and Prevention

Some attitudes and special care can prevent or delay the appearance of cardiovascular diseases.

Physical exercise

Physical activity is any activity involving movement. It may range from sports (such as soccer, tennis, swimming), passing by walks, to simple manual activities. It can be practiced at the work, as leisure, at home, or even serving as transport.

The physical exercise is extremely important to prevent cardiovascular diseases due to several reasons:

– It favors the physical and mental welfare;
– It reduces the arterial pressure (hypertension);
– It helps to control and prevent diabetes type 2;
– It helps to keep the weight controlled and prevents obesity;
– It reduces stress.

For presenting more benefit, the exercise must have minimum duration and regularity. Such condition can be achieved with a physical activity incorporated to the life habits. Aerobic exercise or other activity that increases the heart rate is indicated. The minimum corresponds to 30 minutes of walk, five days weekly. Such objective must be slowly and progressively reached in non-conditioned persons. Choosing an activity that gives pleasure and can be incorporated to the daily routine is important. Exaggerated muscle building or extenuating and very violent physical might represent risk for cardiopathic persons, despite being good to keep the muscle tonus.

After a cardiovascular intervention, the physical exercise assumes a significant role in the secondary prevention. The exercise quantity and intensity will depend on the individual physical condition and must be discussed with the physician. A specific physical rehabilitation program can be useful.

Healthy feeding

Alimentary tips to keep you healthy:

– Control the cholesterol in your diet, consuming at most three egg yolks weekly (even consider the ones used in preparations). Replace a full egg with egg white always when it is possible.

– Keep your weight close to the ideal. This is very important for a perfect synchronism of the heart function. If there is need for decreasing it, reduce the consumption of candies, sugars, fat, and food high in complex carbohydrates (bread, cereals, and pasta). A regular physical exercise helps a lot.

– Replace whole milk and fatty cheeses with skimmed milk and yogurt, white cheese, quark, cottage, and soy cheese.

– Prefer white meat (skinless poultry and fish), consuming it from three to four times weekly. When consuming red meat, remove all the fat visible before the preparation.

– Use oil moderately, preferring oils from vegetal source, such as canola, sunflower, corn, olive, and soybean.

– Prefer roasted, grilled, or steamed food, so avoiding fried food.

– Avoid the consumption of spreads, whipping cream-based sauces, whipped cream, butter, mayonnaise, egg yolk, and flaky pastry.

– Use a vegetal cream (halvarine, margarine) as butter replacement.

– Fractionate your food in four to six meals daily (breakfast, lunch, afternoon lunch, dinner, and supper).

– Be careful with information without technical-scientific basis, referring to fad diets.

– Take care well of your arterial pressure, as it is not always manifested by symptoms and can constitute a risk for heart diseases. You can keep it at an acceptable level, so avoiding to add salt to preparations that already received it during their preparation and staying away of ready-for-use salt-based seasonings.

– Control the consumption of snacks.

– Reduce the consumption of processed meat: cold meats, sausage, wiener, canned food, salami, etc.

– Do not abuse with alcohol, as, besides increasing the risk for diseases such as hypertension, the alcohol may cause dependency.

Moderation is the secret for everything. You might eat a barbecue once in a while, removing the fat from the meat. The same is valid for alcoholic beverage. One chalice of wine daily even helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases. But be careful, as excessive alcohol causes serious issues.

Risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease

Fatores de risco não modificáveis:

Atherosclerosis is a disease that affects arteries from several body regions (heart, brain, kidneys, legs), where a fat deposit occurs inside the vessels, initially causing a reduction in the blood flow and then causing the full vessel obstruction. The atherosclerosis causes the coronary arterial disease or ischemic cardiopathy.

There are numberless scientific studies that identify several factors that increase the atherosclerosis risk. These are called as risk factors for atherosclerosis. The higher the number of risk factors present (as well as the higher the level of each factor), higher the chances to develop the disease will be. There are risk factors that cannot be modified (such as gender, age, and familiar history) and there are others that can be modified, treated, or controlled (such as smoking, high cholesterol, high pressure, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, and stress).

Non-modifiable risk factors:

Advanced age
There is an increase in the possibility of ischemic cardiopathy as the age increases.

Masculine gender
Males are under greater risk and tend to develop the disease earlier than females. However, the disease is more aggressive when affects females.

Familiar history
Sons of parents with ischemic cardiac disease have more chance of developing the disease, mainly if, in the family, the problem has started at younger age. Thus, as age or gender cannot be altered, the familiar history cannot be also controlled. It is important to pay attention to perform preventive exams and to control the other risk factors likely to be modified.

Modifiable risk factors:

The risk of a smoker developing an ischemic cardiac disease is up to 4 times higher than the one of non-smokers. The cigarette also increases the death risk in patients presenting the disease. 

High cholesterol
The higher the cholesterol level, the higher the risk of coronary disease will be. When associated to other risk factors (such as high pressure and smoking), this risk increases even more. In patients known to present the ischemic cardiac disease or atherosclerosis in other territories, the high cholesterol must be kept in the lowest level as possible (lower than 200 mg/dL). The LDL is the bad cholesterol and, therefore, the lower it is will be better. Is the good cholesterol and, therefore, the higher it is will be better. The latter can be increase with physical exercise and weight loss.

High pressure
The arterial hypertension increases the heart function, causing an increase in the thickness of the cardiac muscle. It also increases the risk for stroke, ischemic cardiopathy, kidney failure, and heart failure.

Sedentary lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for the ischemic cardiac disease. The more physical exercise is practiced, the better will be to prevent the disease. However, even moderate exercise can benefit if it is performed regularly and for long term.

Obesity or overweight
People with excessive body fat are more predisposed to develop stroke and ischemic cardiac disease, even when other risk factors are lacking. The increase in weight increases the heart function. It also increases arterial pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides and decreases HDL (good cholesterol). Losing weight is not easy, but even losing few kilograms can cause reduction in the disease risk.

Even with the blood sugar controlled, the diabetes increases the risk for stroke and heart disease, but the risks are higher if the glycemia is not well-controlled. Diabetic patients must perform a prevention work and control other risk factors.

There is evidence saying that an exaggerated response of people to stress and the personality type can increase the risk for ischemic cardiopathy. They can also affect other risk factors. For example, stressed people may eat more, increase weight, begin to smoke, or smoke more than before.

Drink alcohol excessively might cause hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. It can increase triglycerides and cause liver issues and cancer. It contributes for obesity, dependency, suicide, and accidents. However, the risk for ischemic cardiopathy is lower in persons that drink moderately compared to the one in those who do not drink. Moderately means 1 wine chalice daily for females and 2 wine chalices daily for males or this equivalent in alcohol for other beverages. It is not recommended that persons who do drink begin to drink and neither that who already drinks increase the quantity, as the benefit referring to the cardiovascular system must be weighed with the risk for dependency and its consequences.