Cardiovascular is probably a word you’ve heard but you may not know exactly what it means. Cardiovascular disease describes the many different diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels. “Cardio” refers to the heart and “vascular” refers to the blood vessels. There are many types of cardiovascular diseases ranging from high blood pressure and coronary artery disease to heart failure and stroke. It is the leading cause of death among men and women, taking more lives than all cancers combined. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing these diseases.
February is heart month so it is the perfect time to learn about cardiovascular disease and ways you can prevent it.
The term cardiovascular disease is most commonly used to describe arthrosclerosis. Arthrosclerosis is the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Too much build-up can restrict blood flow to organs and tissues. It causes chest pain and can eventually lead to cardiovascular diseases.
Arthrosclerosis is caused by many factors. It can be silent for many years and may not present symptoms until the build-up becomes so severe that it blocks the blood supply entirely. Some common warning signs that this has happened are chest pain, dizziness, and swelling or pain in the arms or legs.
Reducing your risk
You can ensure the health of your heart by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While some risk factors are out of your control, most risk factors are lifestyle changes you can make. These guidelines will not only help you prevent cardiovascular disease, but many other diseases and conditions as well.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels making them more susceptible to arthrosclerosis.
- Exercise. 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise daily can help blood flow more easily.
- Eat healthy. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products supports a healthy heart. Avoid foods high in saturated fat as they contribute to higher cholesterol. Foods high in trans-fat raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.
- Healthy weight. By maintaining a healthy weight, you reduce your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes all of which can contribute to cardiovascular diseases.
- Regular checkups. Visiting your doctor regularly gives you a better picture of your own heart health. Your doctor can measure blood pressure and cholesterol and help you make choices that are best for you.
Efforts to prevent cardiovascular disease can begin as early as childhood. Parents can teach their children healthy eating habits and the value of exercise to help them make the healthiest choices throughout their lives.
Managing cardiovascular disease close to home
The Snyder/White Heart & Vascular Center at Fisher-Titus is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to provide the latest cardiovascular diagnostic and interventional procedures. Non-invasive tests such as stress tests, CT scans, and echocardiograms are all common in detecting and treating cardiovascular disease.
Our highly experienced cardiovascular team is able to provide patients with the most current heart and vascular procedures right here at Fisher-Titus. They offer wellness and prevention, high-tech diagnostics, critical emergency services, a variety of interventional procedures, and personalized rehabilitation programs. We are able to provide all of these cardiology services in the same location, close to home.
About Jason Gahring MSN, MBA, RN
Jason is Vice President of Ambulatory Nursing. He has been a Registered Nurse at Fisher-Titus Medical Center for nearly 20 years with extensive experience in cardiology care. For more information about the Fisher-Titus Heart & Vascular Center, visit fishertitus.org/heart; to make an appointment with a cardiologist, call 419-660-4707.