Cardiovascular disease is a broad term used to describe a range of diseases that affect our heart or blood vessels. The term "cardiovascular disease" is often used interchangeably with heart disease because both terms refer to diseases of the heart or arteries. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in Malaysia. It is also a major cause of disability.
There are many different forms of heart disease, which include coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) and structural heart disease. The most common cause of heart disease is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary artery disease and happens slowly over time. The gradual build-up of fatty deposits in coronary arteries slowly narrows the coronary arteries. The heart receives less blood, and eventually, diminished blood flow may cause chest pain (angina), shortness of breath or other symptoms. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack. Coronary artery disease is the major reason people have heart attacks.
We can help reduce the risk of heart disease by taking steps to control factors that put us at greater risk:
- Control of blood pressure
- Lower the cholesterol level
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Don't smoke
- Get enough exercise
- Eat fatty fish, which is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week
Heart disease is often avoidable. Following a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't mean we need to live a life of self-deprivation. Instead, find ways to incorporate healthy habits into our lifestyle and we will well enjoy a healthier life for years to come.