September marks National Vascular Disease Awareness Month. According to the British Heart Foundation, there are over 7.4 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) accounts for 40% of deaths in the UK, many of which are preventable.
Many vascular diseases are not well understood. An increased awareness will provide people with a better understanding, promoting a healthy lifestyle to minimise the risk of developing CVD.
There are many different types of CVD. The four main types are:
- Coronary Heart Disease - when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked or reduced. This puts a strain on the heart, increasing the risk of heart attacks, angina and heart failure.
- Stroke - a stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. This can cause brain damage and possibly death.
- Peripheral arterial disease - occurs when there's a blockage in the arteries to the limbs, usually the legs.
- Aortic disease - a group of conditions affecting the aorta (the largest blood vessel in the body, which carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body).
What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular Disease is the collective term used for diseases concerning the veins and arteries. It is as common as cancer and affects all parts of the body to which blood flows to. It's caused by a variety of factors including inflammation and weakness of the veins and arteries and the build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels.
The build-up of these deposits occurs over long periods of time and can be symptomless until the arteries and veins become damaged. This leads to the blood flow to vital organs, including the heart and brain being compromised. This further leads to a lack of mobility, pain and eventual tissue death.
The exact cause is unknown. However, the risk factors include:
- Gender - Males tend to be at a higher risk
- Family medical history
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight
- High cholesterol levels
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of exercise
The more risk factors you have will put you at a higher risk of developing CVD. Although many heart and circulatory diseases are caused by risk factors that we can control, treat, and modify through lifestyle choices.
Your risk of being diagnosed with vascular disease can be minimised by:
- Being active
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Observing portion control
- Minimise alcohol consumption
The Connection to Defibrillators
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), previously known as ischaemic heart disease, is the leading cause of death, worldwide. This term is used when there is an interruption or blockage in the coronary arteries.
Complete blockages may lead to a heart attack, which - in some instances - leads to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest(SCA). The only treatment for a person in cardiac arrest is effective CPR and a shock from a defibrillator. The shock stops the heart, allowing the natural pacemaker to restart the heart to its natural rhythm.
For every minute that passes, the chance of survival decreases by 10%. Ambulance response rates currently stand at 11 minutes for urban areas, therefore bystander CPR and swift defibrillation is essential.
Delivering treatment within 3-5 minutes of the cardiac arrest taking place significantly increases the survival chance from 6% to 74%.
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