Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the general term used to describe conditions affecting both the heart and/or blood vessels. There are many types of CVD with the main four consisting of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral arterial disease (PAD), stroke and aortic disease. Today, we will discuss CVD in general along with causes, risk factors, how CVD can be prevented and the relationship between genetics and CVD.
CVDs are the number one cause of deaths worldwide with an estimated 17.7 million deaths in 2015 alone (WHO). The buildup of fatty deposits within arteries walls over time causes these walls to become narrow, thus restricting blood flow, this is known as atherosclerosis. If these fatty deposits (atheroma) break off, a blood clot may form cutting off the supply of oxygen-rich blood to vital organs and tissues, such as the heart. Ultimately, it is the buildup of fatty deposits that form the major link between all types of CVDs and their associated symptoms.
There is no exact cause of CVD, however, there are many risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing CVD. High blood pressure is a common and primary risk factor and is described as the increased force of blood flow making contact with the walls of your arteries. Regular high pressure can result in the hardening and narrowing of the arteries and can cause a damage. The harmful substances in tobacco can also damage your blood vessels, while the buildup of fatty substances such as cholesterol and triglycerides can cause your vessels to narrow and increase the risk of developing a blood clot. Regular inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle are also linked to high blood pressure, increased risk of obesity and higher cholesterol levels, all of which are contributing risk factors for developing CVD. In addition to having a family history of CVDs, other risk factors include diabetes, age, gender and excessive alcohol consumption.
There are many ways to reduce the risk of developing CVD. Adopting a healthier, balanced diet is a positive start which should include a variety of fruits and vegetables to achieve your 5 a-day. Cutting down on saturated fats, reducing salt intake, reducing sugar intake, giving up smoking and reducing alcohol intake are all positive steps towards reducing cardiovascular risk. Moreover, it is equally important to exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the chances of becoming obese and developing CVD. Regular exercise, preferably aerobic exercise, promotes efficient blood flow which in turn helps maintain normal levels of cholesterol and normal blood pressure. Some individuals may require medication to reduce their risk of developing CVD, such medications may include warfarin to reduce blood clot formation and statins to lower blood cholesterol levels. (Read more about Heart medications in our previous blog article “No more ‘One size fits all”, by clicking on the following link).
According to the British Heart Foundation, over 620,000 people in the UK are carrying a faulty gene that puts them at risk of developing CVD.
Understanding these genes and the DNA sequence responsible for inheriting such conditions has become an increasingly important field in medicine and personalised healthcare.
Determining the genetic profile of individuals through DNA testing can be used to determine a person's susceptibility to CVD conditions and can make way for the introduction of appropriate and early interventions that would decrease the risk of CVD and optimise treatment regimen for patients with existing cardiac conditions. Now that you have a background of CVD, in the upcoming weeks, we will explore the main types of CVDs in more detail and uncover the science behind how such diseases develop, the mechanism of action for their prognosis and the metabolic pathway of certain heart medications.
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Tags:CVD Cardiovascular Conditions Inherited Heart DNA Test Medications Warfarin Statin High Blood Pressure Atherosclerosis Coronary Artery Disease Genetics Personalised Medicine
Posted 115 Days Ago by Hitesh Shukla
Did you ever wonder how a simple saliva sample can give you so much information? How can a drop of saliva indicate how long it takes your body to process caffeine? Or perhaps how depositing your saliva sample into a tube can be analysed to give you the likelihood of developing certain inherited conditions? ...the answer is Genotyping and it has certainly become one of our greatest friends over the years.
Posted 218 Days Ago by Orla Green
Traditional methods of measuring cardiovascular risk take into account basic factors such as smoking status, age, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but this information doesn't paint a full picture of your cardiac health. Identifying if you have genetic traits associated with cardiovascular diseases can help your cardiologist tailor treatment to your genetics and minimise side effects by determining which drugs you respond to best.