Raising awareness of the risks and prevalence of heart disease is essential to what we do here at Martek Lifecare. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find details on what cardiovascular disease is, what risk factors may put you at risk of developing it, and ways to treat, prevent and protect yourself from complications such as sudden cardiac arrest.
How common is heart disease?
Unless heart disease impacts you directly, you may not know how common it is. Many people don’t realise just how prominent cardiovascular disease is and how many lives it claims each year.
Cardiovascular disease (often shortened to CVD) is a collective term for diseases concerning the arteries and veins. It accounts for 40% of deaths annually in the UK – many of which could have been prevented. There are different types of CVD – with the four main types being:
*Coronary Heart Disease – Interruption, reduction or blockage of the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, which puts a strain on heart function leading to increased risk of angina, heart attack and heart failure
*Peripheral Arterial Disease – This occurs when arteries in the limbs are blocked – usually in the legs
*Aortic Disease – A group of conditions which affect the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body carrying blood to and from the heart
*Stroke – Often not thought of as a cardiovascular event, a stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is cut off, resulting in brain damage or, in the worst cases, death
On average, 460 people die due to CVD daily – one death every three minutes. Forty-seven thousand people under 75 die from heart and circulatory diseases each year, while cardiovascular disease claims an estimated 17.9 million lives globally, according to the World Health Organisation.
What factors affect heart health?
Scientists who have studied CVD extensively have identified several common factors affecting individuals living with heart disease. The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk of developing CVD. Risk factors for CVD include:
*Family medical history (having one or more parents or grandparents diagnosed with CVD increases your risk of also developing it)
*Gender – males tend to be at higher risk of developing CVD, although it does affect women and can be commonly misdiagnosed as symptoms often differ from those experienced by men
*High blood pressure
*Being overweight or obese
*Lack of exercise and/or sedentary lifestyle
The prevalence of many of these factors in modern lifestyles has been cited as a significant contributor to widespread cardiovascular disease and its effects. Often lifestyle changes are enough to lessen or reverse the impact of early-onset CVD – but in many cases, medical intervention in the form of medication or surgery is required.
How can I protect myself against the risks of heart disease?
Many instances of heart disease can be directly linked to lifestyle choices, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, a poor diet high in fats, sugar and processed foods, and lack of adequate exercise. The prevalence of heart disease in developed countries such as the UK and the US indicates that often, heart disease is directly influenced by our daily activities and choices. In many cases, early intervention with a healthier diet, exercise and stress management can help prevent complications.
But a significant number of people are also impacted by heart disease due to several unavoidable factors that cannot be treated or controlled through lifestyle changes alone, such as a genetic predisposition or heart condition. On top of this, heart disease isn’t always chronic – sometimes, it occurs unexpectedly in an otherwise healthy individual.
This is why AED availability at home or when out and about is crucial – in the event of SCA, rapid defibrillation within the first few minutes is vital to save a person’s life.
Why defibrillator access is so essential when protecting against the impact of CVD
Cardiovascular disease is the most common precursor of both coronary heart disease and heart attacks – sometimes leading to sudden cardiac arrest. With CVD so prevalent in the UK, it makes sense to have AEDs readily accessible and available throughout public spaces and local communities so that individuals with and without diagnosed CVD are protected should the worst-case scenario occur.
SCA can occur anytime, anywhere – and swift defibrillation is essential to ensure a person’s survival should they fall victim. With each minute passing, survival rates fall by 10% – and with average ambulance time falling between 7 and 11 minutes, an AED situated close by is usually a person’s best chance of staying alive.
Around 200 people a day suffer SCA, and most occur out of hospital – so public AED access is vital.
Want to learn more about obtaining an AED for your home or business – or the impact of CVD and SCA in the UK? Get in touch today.