Heart Disease / Stroke

A Global Epidemic

Heart disease and stroke kill some 17 million people a year, which is almost one-third of all deaths globally.  By 2020, heart disease and stroke will become the leading cause of both death and disability worldwide, with the number of fatalities projected to increase to over 20 million a year and by 2030 to over 24 million a year.

The old stereotype of cardiovascular diseases affecting only stressed, overweight middle-aged men in developed countries no longer applies.  “Today, men, women and children are at risk and 80% of the burden is in low- and middle-income countries.

Economics

Heart disease and stroke not only take lives, but also cause an enormous economic burden. It’s estimated that the economic costs of heart disease and stroke exceed $320 billion, after taking into account health expenses and lost productivity.

World Heart Day

Obesity, poor diets, smoking and physical inactivity, the leading causes of heart disease and stroke, are now being seen at an alarmingly early age.  Around 100 countries take part each year in the annual, World Heart Day, with member societies organizing educational activities for everyone to get involved. Thousands of people around the world join one of the walks, runs, jump rope or fitness sessions, have a health check or learn about heart-healthy lifestyles from the public talks, scientific forums and exhibitions.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The lipid profile is used as part of a cardiac risk assessment to help determine an individual’s risk of heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be best if there is borderline or high risk.

Lipids are a group of fats and fat-like substances that are important constituents of cells and sources of energy. Monitoring and maintaining healthy levels of these lipids is important in staying healthy.

The results of the lipid profile are considered along with other known risk factors of heart disease to develop a plan of treatment and follow-up. Depending on the results and other risk factors, treatment options may involve lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise or lipid-lowering medications such as statins.

A lipid profile typically includes:

  • Total cholesterol — this test measures all of the cholesterol in all the lipoprotein particles.
  • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) — measures the cholesterol in HDL particles; often called “good cholesterol” because it removes excess cholesterol and carries it to the liver for removal.
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) — calculates the cholesterol in LDL particles; often called “bad cholesterol” because it deposits excess cholesterol in walls of blood vessels, which can contribute to atherosclerosis. Usually, the amount of LDL-C is calculated using the results of total cholesterol, HDL-C, and triglycerides.
  • Triglycerides — measures all the triglycerides in all the lipoprotein particles; most is in the very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL).

The best ways to help prevent heart disease is by eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, quitting smoking (if a current smoker) and maintaining a healthy weight. Patients should also know their numbers, including blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, which are important to heart health.

There are many things adults can do to help prevent a stroke. First, maintain a healthy blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, visit your physician to properly treat this condition. Maintaining a healthy diet, weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, and quitting smoking (if you are a smoker) can also help significantly lower risk for stroke.