Cardiovascular disease kills more people around the world than any other disease. In France, it is responsible for 140,000 deaths per year, which puts it second only to cancer.
But what can we do to avoid becoming another statistic?
Firstly, what are the primary risk factors that increase the possibility of developing cardiovascular disease?
Primary risk factors for cardiovascular diseases
- Having a sedentary lifestyle (not doing daily physical activity for at least 30 minutes).
- Not eating properly.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Having high blood pressure.
- Having a body mass index greater than 25 kg/m2 and/or having an accumulation of abdominal fat.
- Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 5 to 30 g/day for men and 5 to 15 g/day for women).
- A high blood cholesterol level that may or may not be associated with high triglyceride blood levels.
- Being a victim of psychological stress and having developed one or more of the most visible consequences:
- High level of fat in the blood (dyslipidemia);
- Type 2 diabetes;
- High blood pressure.
But there are also secondary factors that are equally important, but too often neglected by conventional medicine. What are they?
- Your genetics. For some people, there is a family predisposition to one disease or another. However, this genetic predisposition is not enough to trigger the development of the disease. Other factors must be present. So, if you have a predisposition in your family, don’t worry, there is no certain inevitability.
- Did you gain weight quickly and excessively during the first three months after your birth? You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes or experience a cardiovascular event before the age of 50.
- Height. The taller you are, the more likely you are to have a thromboembolic event.
- The blood groups A, B and AB are more at risk.
- Some genetic variants of the Y chromosome in humans increase risk.
- A vitamin D deficiency can increase the chances of arterial calcification.
- Are you vegetarian or vegan? Beware of vitamin B12. A deficiency promotes cardiovascular disease.
- A lack of magnesium and/or potassium is often associated with congestive heart failure.
- Zinc deficiency, often present in type 2 diabetics, is also associated with cardiovascular disease.
- Skipping breakfast can increase your chances.
- Negative thoughts, being anxious, stressed, worried or feelings of distress are all factors that promote cardiovascular disease and physical exhaustion. If you find yourself in this situation, work with a health care professional who will help you regain balance.
- Having a strong self-image and suffering a significant failure can predispose a person to serious cardiovascular events.
- Unexpected news may cause myocardial infarction or stroke.
- Mental depression, especially if it began at a young age, increases the risk of a fatal stroke by a factor of four.
Factors arising from certain treatments or drugs
- Aspirin ingestion can cause minor digestive bleeding, that can develop into severe anemia, which can lead to myocardial infarction or hemorrhagic stroke;
- The use of statins (drugs to control cholesterol) can lead to type 2 diabetes;
- Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and diclofenac can lead to atrial fibrillation;
- Corticosteroids can cause heart rhythm problems;
- Taking too many calcium supplements increases the risk of cardiovascular events;
- Some stop-smoking products (varenicline) increase the risk of atherosclerosis;
- Beta blockers (medicines used to treat certain heart rhythm disorders and high blood pressure) increase the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke;
- Certain prescriptions to counter osteoporosis (biphosphates) are associated with a risk of atrial fibrillation.
Factors that help reduce risk
- Living at a higher altitude.
- Following a healthy diet, preferably Mediterranean, composed of fresh solid and liquid foods, rich in vitamins and minerals, unprocessed and the least polluted possible. It should include fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, tea, and cocoa. Eating fish two to three times a week including fatty fish (sardines, mackerel, herring, etc.) at least once. Reduce salt intake. Reduce consumption of meat products, cheeses, butter, Viennese pastries, and other pastries. Increase foods that contain dietary fiber such as whole grains and breads, dried vegetables, fruits and vegetables. Add eggs to your diet. Their daily consumption is now recommended. Drink coffee in moderation to reduce heart rhythm problems.
- Be moderately active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week to accumulate at least 150 minutes of activity per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activities. It is important to do the activity for your well-being and not for competition. You should also aim to stay active as long as possible in life.
- Having a pet is a good way to reduce stress and is a good reason to become more active.
- Keep teeth healthy. Regularly visit your dentist because some dental bacteria can end up in the cardiovascular system.
- Enjoy the sun but not excessively.
- Sleep well.
- Visit the sauna. This regular practice can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and mortality.
- Take a “movement” break every two hours if you work in a sitting position.
- Live in a quiet place, away from pollution, noise, night light and stress.
This article was inspired by the cardiovascular prevention file written by Naima Bauplé, published in the magazine of Alternative Health, November 2018 – number 62. Read it for more details.
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