The most important causes of cardiovascular diseases are an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco consumption and the harmful consumption of alcohol. With a change in habits and incorporating new activities into the daily routine, the risks responsible for coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease can be reduced. Discover this information recommended by Thomson’s heart doctor and know the alternatives you can apply to monitor your heart health.

The effects of unhealthy diets and physical inactivity can be manifested by increases in blood pressure, sugar and blood fats, overweight or obesity. These “intermediary risk factors” can be measured in primary care centers and indicate an increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure and other complications.

It has been demonstrated that the cessation of tobacco consumption, the reduction of salt in the diet, the consumption of fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity and avoiding the harmful consumption of alcohol reduce the risk of CVD. Cardiovascular risk can also be reduced by preventing or treating hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia.

Policies that create enabling environments for choosing affordable healthy options are essential to motivate people to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors.

How to prevent these diseases?

WHO has identified very cost-effective interventions to prevent and control CVD, whose application is feasible even in low-resource settings.

It is possible to reduce the risk of CVD by doing physical activities on a regular basis; avoiding active or passive inhalation of tobacco smoke; consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables; avoiding foods with a lot of fats, sugars and salt, maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding the harmful consumption of alcohol.

The way to prevent and control CVD is through a global and integrated action:

  • Tobacco control, taxes to reduce the intake of foods rich in fats, sugars and salt, the creation of pedestrian and bicycle paths in order to encourage physical activity, and the provision of healthy meals in school cafeterias.
  • The integrated strategies focus on the main risk factors common to several chronic diseases such as CVD, diabetes and cancer: unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use.

There are several interventions available. Some of them can be applied even by non-medical health professionals in centers close to the client. These interventions are very cost-effective, have a great impact and WHO considers them a priority. For example:

  • Practice physical activity adapted to the characteristics of each individual.
  • Avoid overweight andobesity by controlling your diet.
  • Follow a diet low in fat of animal origin and rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish vegetables, and perform cholesterol tests at least 4 times a year.
  • Do not abuse alcoholic beveragesand stop smoking.
  • Measure blood pressure periodically.