Cardiovascular Disease Kills One in Three People.

What is it? It is an umbrella term which includes diseases of heart and blood vessels. the most common type of disease is caused by an obstruction in a blood vessel like an artery to a major organ, such as the heart or brain. The obstruction is usually caused by the gradual narrowing of the artery (like the furring of a water pipe) caused by fatty deposits in its lining. this process can occur over many years or decades until one day a fatty lump or plaque will become damaged causing blood platelets to stick to it, thus blocking the blood flow. The resulting restriction of blood and oxygen (ischaemia) results in death of a part of the heart muscle or brain (heart attack or a stroke).

How can you reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease? There are many risk factors for cardiovascular disease, some of which are preventable. Sadly some risk factors are not preventable such as your gender or family medical history, but it makes sense that if you reduce the preventable factors, then your overall risk of developing problems will be reduced.

Why bother – we’ve all got to die of something? True, but dying from a heart attack or a stroke does not necessarily mean that you will die peacefully in your sleep. Cardiovascular Disease can be a long lingering “death” over many years. Damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack can cause chronic chest pain (angina), can limit how far you can walk and cause you to be fighting for your breath for much of your time. 75 per cent of people who have a stroke develop a disability, usually a paralysis of one half of their body or of their power of speech. It is not pleasant and in many cases it can be avoided.

Smoking Smoking is the number one factor which individuals can stop themselves and will halve the risk of a heart attack after five years. This and other preventable factors will be considered in a series of notes on this notice board over the next few weeks.

How to give up When smokers cut down on cigarettes or change to cigars, they change their method of smoking by taking more puffs per cigarette and inhaling more deeply to get a “high”. It is not proven that changing to pipe smoking reduces the risks. There is only one way and that is total cessation.

Nicotine replacement treatment There are many forms of nicotine replacement products available for sale as patches, chewing gum, lozenges and inhalators. The type of product you need depends on the number of cigarettes smoked and personal preferences. the amount of nicotine gradually reduces over several months so that withdrawal is easier. these products are available in pharmacies and in some accredited pharmacies they can be bought at a reduced price If you elect to have a course of up to 12 weeks, and be monitored and receive support for the course.

Preventable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Smoking

What does nicotine do? Cigarette smoking leads to an addiction to nicotine. Nicotine stimulates a part of the brain which gives feelings of pleasure and any attempt to withdraw from the habit results in unpleasant symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration and low mood.

Why give up smoking? Smoking can cause cardiovascular disease, as well as lung and breathing disorders and cancer. It has been estimated that an individual can expect to reduce his/her life by 11 minutes every time he/she smokes a cigarette. The health benefits of giving up smoking are shown in the table.

a timetable of the benefits of smoking cessation

20 Mins Blood pressure and pulse return to normal 8 Hrs Oxygen concentration in the blood returns to normal; nicotine and carbon monoxide concentrations in the blood are reduced by 50 per cent 24 Hrs Carbon monoxide has been eliminated from the body; lungs begin to clear mucus and debris; 48 Hrs Nicotine has been eliminated from the body; sense of taste and smell improve 72 Hrs Breathing is easier; airways begin to relax; energy levels begin to increase 2 - 12 Wks Circulation improves, making physical activity easier 3 - 9 Mths Lung function has increased by 10 per cent; cilia in the airways regrow; coughing, shortness of breath and wheeziness improve 5 Yrs Risk of a heart attack falls to half that of a smoker; risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and oesophagus is half that of a smoker 10 Yrs Risk of lung cancer is half that of a smoker 15 Yrs Risk of a heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked Why is it bad for you? Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 toxic chemicals including:

acetone ammonia arsenic benzene cadmium carbon monoxide cyanide formaldehyde shellac tar

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