Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease

The term cardiovascular disease includes heart, blood vessel and stroke diseases. The disease is one of Australia’s biggest health problems, causing death every 12 minutes. It affects nearly 4 million Australians. 

CVD is more common in some people than others. The risk increases as we age. The body’s natural functions slow down with age, increasing the likelihood of something going wrong with the heart and arteries.

Many factors can increase the risk of CVD.

Smoking can narrow and block arteries, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. A diet that is high in trans fats, saturated fats, and LDL cholesterol increases your CVD risk. Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and grains, and keep your weight within a healthy range.
A clot in the arteries (thrombosis), can cause chest pain or even a heart attack. A stroke can occur when a blood clot blocks an artery that delivers blood to the brain.

These conditions are often not caused by any obvious factor, but certain factors can increase the likelihood of them occurring. Included in this list are:

Genetics: You may be predisposed to CVD if a family member suffered from it.
Lifestyle: A healthy diet and exercise can prevent CVD. So can quitting smoking. You can also reduce your risk by having regular heart checks, avoiding drinking alcohol and losing weight.

In Australia, coronary heart diseases, vascular dementia, and ischemic stroke are the leading causes of CVD. Coronary heart diseases are caused by a buildup of a waxy substance known as plaque in the arteries supplying blood to your heart. This can reduce the oxygen that reaches your heart and cause symptoms such as angina or heart attacks.

Vessel disease is a problem with blood vessels that provide blood to the body. It can include varicose and hardened arteries. They can cause serious complications, such as aortic rupture and aortic regurgitation.

In Australia, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of vascular dementia. It affects parts of the brain that are responsible for memory and thinking. Degenerative conditions worsen over time. Other conditions, such as Parkinson’s and vascular dementia accompanied by Lewy bodies, are also included in vascular dementia. This type of dementia is characterised by confusion, memory loss, and personality changes. Other types of dementia caused by vascular disease can be tumours, strokes and a lack in blood flow to your brain.

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