Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death and disability in the United States and most European countries.  Prevention for this disease must begin in childhood, not after symptoms are noticed.  Sometimes the first symptom is a heart attack or sudden cardiac death.  There are several different types of cardiovascular diseases, risk factors, and things we can do even at a young age to better our health to avoid ending up with cardiovascular disease.

Angina is one type of disease that can be diagnosed.  This is when there is severe chest pain that is usually considered to be from a lack of blood supply or oxygen to the heart muscle.  Some symptoms that might be noticed are discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or a tight feeling in the chest.  The most common cause is coronary artery disease that often begins in childhood. 

Congestive heart failure is another cardiovascular disease.  This refers to a structural or functional problem within the heart that does not allow for adequate blood flow to the rest of the body. 

Heart attack is a common phrase, but do you know what happens when someone experiences a heart attack?  Severe damage and cell death occur in the arterial wall killing the heart tissue.  At this point the blood supply is interrupted due to the blockage.  White blood cells then come and cause the platelets to stick together, forming a clot in the arterial wall. 

Some risk factors for cardiovascular disease are age, increased blood pressure, blood lipids, glucose intolerance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, gender, and genetics.  These are all risk factors that non-modifiable and lifestyle changes have proven to be effective in reducing.  Modifiable risks include things like controlling blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol as well as not smoking, exercising more, and eating less.

Choi Kwang Do is a wonderful way to increase your exercise and has been proven to help reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.  Starting a heart healthy lifestyle at an early age is key to preventing cardiovascular disease in the future.  See our next “Nutrition” article for more tips on living a heart healthy lifestyle.


Information taken from “Great Courses Nutrition"