Since the start of the 20th century, CVD or CardioVascular Disease, has been the number one killer in North America. Almost 60% of all deaths each year are a result of CVD. CVD results in 33.3 percent of all hospitalization expenditures. In the United States alone this translates into a death every 33 seconds and results in a cost of more than $326.6 billion each year to the health care system.
Medications and emergency rooms can and do save the lives of numerous patients, but the operating room will never bring this monstrous condition under control. By following the correct lifestyle and dietary advise we can prevent a large percentage of CVDs from ever occurring. Even after a major episode of CVD there is good evidence that, with the correct advice and follow-through procedures, we can reverse much of the damage.
In this article, I will focus on some of the factors that lead to coronary heart disease including stroke, atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. These conditions makes up 78% of all CVD's and are the areas where we, can have the greatest influence. There are numerous factors that we can address to prevent CVD's from occurring.
This article addresses the following major factors: Hypertension, Cholesterol, Homocysteine, Fibrinogen, and Insulin.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when the body's smaller blood vessels (known as the arterioles) narrow causing the blood to exert excessive pressure against the vessel. The heart must work harder to maintain this higher pressure resulting in damage to the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes.
Between 50-60 million Americans ranging in age from 6 and older, have high blood pressure. High blood pressure causes arteries to become scarred, hardened, and less elastic. If hypertension is not treated it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and eye disorders. Only 18% of people with hypertension return to normal blood pressure levels while on medication.
In fact, it has been shown that the very medications patients take to reduce hypertension may indirectly act to increase blood pressure. This is due to the effect that hypertensive medications have on insulin sensitivity. Many of these medications cause a decrease in a cell's sensitivity to insulin, which in turn results in endothelial cell dysfunction. Endothelial cell dysfunction is related to increases in blood pressure. This is why it is so difficult to get a patient off hypertensive medications once they have started using them.
Blood pressure readings should be taken in both arms. Usually there is a difference of 5-10 mm Hg between the left and right sides. Pressure differences of more than 10-15 mm Hg suggests arterial compression or obstruction on the side with the lower pressure. A fall in systolic pressure of 20 mm Hg or more, may be indicative of orthostatic hypotension caused by one or more of: adrenal stress, medications, decreased blood volume, or a disease of the peripheral autonomic nervous system .
Hypertension is typically defined as an a systolic pressure of 140 mg Hg or greater and a diastolic pressure of 90 mg Hg or greater.
- Normal - Systolic Pressure 90-119 mmHg - Diastolic Pressure 60-79 mmHg
- Prehypertension - Systolic Pressure 120-139 mmHg - Diastolic Pressure 80-89 mmHg
- Hypertension Stage 1 - Systolic Pressure 140-159 mmHg - Diastolic Pressure 90-99
- Hypertension Stage 2 - Systolic Pressure 160 mmHg - Diastolic Pressure 100 mmHg
In part two of Preventing Cardiovascular Disease we will cover Lifestyle and dietary recommendations for hypertension
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