Cardiovascular disease kills more people on Earth than any other cause of death, including cancer, lung disease, motor vehicle accidents, or homicide. Heart disease and stroke claimed about 15 million lives worldwide in 2015. In the United States, over 600,000 Americans die from heart disease alone each year — accounting for 25% of American deaths. Another 140,000 Americans die from stroke, and of the 800,000 yearly stroke victims that survive, many go on to have serious, permanent disabilities.
Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is a highly preventable illness. In fact, the Center of Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 80 percent of heart disease is caused by preventable risk factors (including smoking, being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, poor diet, and excess alcohol use).
Additionally, three illnesses that are directly linked to cardiovascular disease - Hypertension, High Cholesterol, and Diabetes Mellitus Type II, are also directly impacted by lifestyle.
WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?
In order for you to survive and function properly, your tissues and organs, including the heart and brain, require oxygen-rich blood, which is pumped from the heart through a network of pipe-like blood vessels called arteries. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when the pressure of blood flow from the heart against the inside walls of the arteries is too high, which damages the arteries and causes the heart to work too hard. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attacks, stroke and deadly abnormal heart rhythms, as well as other serious medical conditions.
Several factors may cause high blood pressure, including the way you live. Modifiable risk factors include:
Lack of physical activity
Unhealthy diet, particularly a high salt diet
Being overweight or obese
Drinking too much alcohol
Too much stress
Hypertension itself is often symptomless and called the silent killer. Therefore, blood pressure should be checked regularly. A blood pressure consistently over 140/90 despite lifestyle changes should be treated with medications.
What is the importance of high cholesterol?
When cholesterol in the blood is too high, it can collect with other substances to form a thick, hard plaque that narrows the inside of the blood vessels. When the flow of blood to the heart and brain are poor, heart attacks and strokes happen. That is why it is important to have your cholesterol checked.
Diabetes Mellitus, Type II
Like high blood pressure, high levels of sugar in the blood are very destructive to blood vessels and other tissue and organs in the body. The health complications from Diabetes are absolutely devastating and include blindness, amputations, kidney failure and dialysis, poor immunity to infections and, chronic nerve pain, amongst other things, and most diabetics ultimately die from cardiovascular disease. That is why it is important to check your blood sugar. Being overweight and lack of exercise strongly increase the chances of developing diabetes mellitus.
Based on evidence, guidelines, and recommendations interpreted by Dr. Joseph Novencido from the American Academy of Family Physicians, the US Preventative Task Force, the Center of Disease Control, UpToDate, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The American Heart Association.