Cardiovascular disease includes high blood pressure, valvular heart disease, coronary heart diseases, stroke or rheumatic fever/rheumatic heart disease. These diseases of the heart are responsible for over 50 percent of all deaths in the United States. It is the leading cause of death in adults and in women and over 2,000 people die from it every day. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) may be in your DNA. An individual’s family history is an indicator of whether or not that individual will develop heart disease. If everyone in the family has high blood pressure, then anyone born into that family has a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease, but there are positive things that can be done to lessen this dismal prognosis and decrease one’s chances of having it.
Everyone knows that diet, lifestyle and weight are all important factors in preventing heart disease, as well as helping improve the disease once it develops. Smoking, inactivity, alcohol consumption, poor diet, and being overweight are all factors that contribute to developing heart disease. Common sense dictates that to decrease one’s risk for disease development the individual needs to stop or start doing those activities (drinking, smoking, lose weight and start exercising). There are other things that can be done that also help diminish one’s risk.
Treatment of depression before the onset of any cardiovascular disease was found to decrease the risk for heart attack or stroke by 48 percent. In order to achieve these gains the treatment had to begin before there was any development of cardiovascular disease, as there were no cardiovascular gains if treatment for depression began after the patients already had heart problems. More than 42.5 million Americans over the age of 60 have CVD, and within this population are 6.5 million Americans age 65 or older who have depression and early detection and treatment can have dramatically positive outcomes for heart health and disease prevention.
Low levels of vitamin D have been found to be associated with death from cardiovascular disease in people with and without a history of the disease. Vitamin D is known to be essential for healthy bones and improves intestinal absorption of other vitamins including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. As women seem to have lower than average levels of Vitamin D, having blood tests and determining whether or not a Vitamin D supplement is appropriate is a positive preventive course of action and will help decrease your chances of having an adverse cardiovascular disease event or developing a heart disease.
With the recent expansion of medicinal marijuana use, there is reason to be concerned about potential cardiovascular complications in young and middle-aged adults who presented to hospitals after marijuana use. These complications were serious and involved heart attacks, peripheral artery disease, arterial brain issues and death. These complications tripled between 2006 and 2010, presumably due to increased availability and usage. Clearly, if anyone intends to use marijuana medicinally, it should be done under a physician’s care and treatment, so that possible family and medical history can be taken into account before any marijuana or a specific dosage is prescribed.
The last suggestion for positive action that can decrease an individual’s chances for adverse cardiovascular events or disease development is to get married. An analysis of 3.5 million surveys given to men and women, at various health centers throughout the U.S. between 2004 and 2008, concluded that marriage can have a profound positive impact on development of CVD. The study found that regardless of age, sex, race, or cardiovascular risk factors, married people, had significantly less cardiovascular disease than those who were single, divorced or widowed. Marital status matters and physicians need to be especially sensitive to patients who become widowed or divorced, as these major life changing events can produce depression and cardiovascular disease and this combination as described above can be effectively treated to their patients’ benefit.
By Brendie Kelly