The European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention recalls two main categories of risk factors: modifiable and non-modifiable. The main modifiable risk factors are responsible for about 80% of ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, such as hypertension, dyslipidaemia (abnormal levels of cholesterol); diabetes / glucose tolerance disturbances; smoking; obesity (BMI 30); physical inactivity; microalbuminuria or GFR <60 mL / min (diabetic kidney disease).
Among the risk factors that cannot be changed there are the age and the family history of premature cardiovascular disease.
What tests are to be done?
1. Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is an absolutely harmless and painless test for checking the problems of the heart’s electrical activity, but it cannot detect a future heart attack. There are a number of drugs that can change the electrocardiogram’s results and because of this, you need to tell your doctor about all the medicines prescribed and non-prescribed that you have taken. Usually, a full test lasts between 5 and 10 minutes, during which:
You will lay on a bed or a table. On your hands, legs and chest there will be placed some small metal discs (electrodes). An EKG gel will be applied to the skin to form a barrier between the skin and the electrodes and to improve the electrical conduction of the impulse;
The electrodes attached to the skin are connected to a device that reproduces the activity of the heart directly on paper;
During the test you will be asked to breathe normally and sometimes you’ll be asked to keep your breath. During the test you must not talk;
For men who have more hair on his chest, a small area could be shaved for the skin to make contact with the electrodes;
After the test is done and the electrodes will be removed, you might feel a slight pinch.
2. The blood test that can detect the level of C-reactive protein. This protein is found in plasma and it is synthesized by the liver and fat cells of the body, and to determine its concentration a blood sample is required. In general, within 24 hours the concentration of C-reactive protein is determined and its normal value is between 0-1.0mg/dl or below 10mg/l.
3. Computed tomography (CT) is done at the doctor’s request only, as it is a method of investigation which uses radiation and its repetition increases the risk of cancer. You will be directed to a CT scan only if other tests do not provide a correct diagnosis
4. Angiography is recommended when the investigation of the heart vessels is necessary. It is a test which uses X-rays (although they are in small amounts, it is not indicated for pregnant women) and a dye to see the blood flow. The test can identify blockages of the heart arteries at the base of the heart, aneurysms, renal artery problems, vascular malformations or blood clots in the lungs.
5. Chest X-ray (only at the doctor’s request) is useful for detecting heart problems such as heart failure or an enlarged heart.
Heart diseases, more dangerous than cancer
According to the European Society of Cardiology, cardiovascular diseases kill more people than all cancers combined, with a higher percentage among women (55% of deaths) than among men (43% of deaths) and mortality increased among patients with a lower socio-economic position.
The World Health Organization states that the incidence of cardiovascular diseases will decrease by more than half if:
You have a low value of blood pressure (below 140/90 mmHg);
You have a normal body weight;
If you don’t smoke;
If the total cholesterol is normal (less than 190 mg / dl);
If you choose a healthy diet;
If you have adequate physical activity (at least 30 minutes per day);
If you avoid excessive stress;
Please note! If you were hospitalized for heart disease or you feel tired very quickly during small efforts, talk to your cardiologist and ask when it is best to resume your normal activities. Some people with serious heart disease are not allowed to make physical effort, warns the Romanian Society of Cardiology.
What does The European Society of Cardiology recommend?
Diet plays an essential role in preventing heart diseases. A healthy diet does not mean tasteless food or strict regime. It is essential to learn to eat tastefully and maintain our weight and cholesterol levels simultaneously, whether at home or at the restaurant. The European Society of Cardiology recommends:
1. Many and varied fruits, vegetables (especially fresh, uncooked), whole grain products, with a small percentage of fat;
3. Low-fat milk (1%);
4. Less meat, skinless chicken, not fried. Do not cook with saturated oils;
5. Reduce the consumption of salt and sweet drinks (add spices for taste), alcohol in moderation, preferably a glass of red wine;
6. The largest quantity of fat has to be mono and polyunsaturated. Avoid hydrogenated products;
7. Maximum 2 eggs / week;
8. Skip the fries, cakes, creams, donuts, pretzels and crackers;
9. Maximum 1-2 coffees / day;
10. Try to avoid “fast food” at all costs.
And do not forget the regular exercise (running, cycling, aerobics, basketball, walking, climbing stairs, rowing) that have the ability to improve the functioning of the heart, lungs and circulatory system.