Cardiovascular Disease: How it affects us
Based on a press report in October 2015, almost 1 in 3 deaths in Singapore in the year 2014 was because of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.
According to the Singapore Heart Foundation, high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” as it often does not result in any visible warning signs or symptoms, and that in 2010, almost 1 in 4 residents in Singapore aged 30-69 have high blood pressure.
More alarmingly, 16 people die from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) every day in Singapore.
PRINCIPAL CAUSES OF DEATHS
|Total No. of Deaths||18,938||19,393||19,862|
|% of Total Deaths|
|Ischaemic Heart Disease||15.5%||16.0%||16.7%|
|Cerebrovascular Disease (including stroke)||8.9%||8.4%||6.8%|
|Hypertensive Diseases (including hypertensive heart disease)||3.1%||3.6%||3.9%|
|Other Heart Diseases||2.0%||1.9%||2.2%|
|Total % of Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease||29.5%||29.9%||29.6%|
|Total No. of Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease||5,587||5,799||5,879|
Source: Ministry Of Health
Coronary Heart Disease
What is it?
It is the narrowing or blockage of the artery, or arteries, that supply blood to the heart muscle. The narrowing of the artery is caused by plagues, which are the cholesterol deposits along the vessel wall. When that happens, it leads to abnormal and thickening of the lining of the heart arteries, and this usually takes place slowly over many years.
What causes it?
Individuals who have high body fat levels, who smoke, or are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and high cholesterol are prone to developing coronary heart disease.
The cholesterol plaque that is causing the blockage may rupture, thus causing a blood clot. The blood clot will cut off blood supply and cause damage to the heart muscle. This condition is called “myocardial infarction”, commonly referred to as a “heart attack”. The patient may get severe chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, giddiness, cold and sweaty hands, or even sudden death.
What are the treatment options?
The severity and prognosis of the heart attack will depend on the extent of the damage on the heart muscle. Individuals who suffer from minor heart attacks can usually recover. Major heart attacks may result in long-term heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, enlargement of the heart, leakage at the heart valve or even death.
The various treatment options are dependent on how much damage has been inflicted on the heart muscle and symptoms experienced by the patient.
This is the one approach that one can have control over, to prevent or manage such diseases.
You can always make the decision to eat a healthy and balanced diet that has more fruits and vegetables rather than high-fat foods. Food rich in fat, and particularly saturated fats can lead to higher levels of cholesterol in your body and this is a major component of the deposits that line against the blood vessel walls, causing the narrowing of the heart arteries.
Control the major risk factors of coronary heart disease.
The 4 major factors that lead to higher risk of coronary heart disease are:
- diabetes mellitus
- high cholesterol levels
- high blood pressure
Sound control over these 4 risk factors by making good lifestyle changes or/and medication can help to stabilize the progress of atherosclerosis, reducing the risk of complications like a heart attack.
There are various medical therapies available for patients, which is best consulted with the doctor who will prescribe the most suitable intervention based on the condition.
Three common ways are through:
Many medication options include aspirin, beta-blockers, nitrates lipid-lowering medications, enzyme inhibitors, and receptor blockers.
2) Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
A minimal invasive method of inserting a ‘balloon’ and a stent to open up the blocked artery, suitable for patients with single or double-vessel disease.
The “Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)” is normally used for patients with poor heart function or triple-vessel disease. Such surgery can also be performed via a robotic surgery program, which is done using tiny keyhole incisions on the chest wall only. Robotic surgery requires shorter recovery time, with a lower risk of infection. However, it is only suitable for one to two vessels.
Prevention is always better than cure. Why wait to tomorrow when you can do it today? If you know you are not doing enough to help yourself, start today. Encourage your loved ones who you think are at risk due to poor lifestyle habits to start to take control of their health by changing their habits right away. The earlier you start, the better it will be for you.