Emirates Medical Association
Emirates Medical Association

Patient Education

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be the leading cause of death and disability in the world today: over 17.3 million people die from cardiovascular disease every year.

Any disease of the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease of the blood vessel constitutes as a cardiovascular disease. The most prevalent cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (e.g. heart attack) and cerebrovascular disease (e.g. stroke). Controlling key risk factors such as diet, physical activity, tobacco use, and blood pressure may reduce your risk for CVD.


Symptoms of Heart Attacks and Strokes


Often, there are no symptoms of the underlying disease of the blood vessels. A heart attack or stroke may be the first warning of underlying disease. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest;
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back.
  • In addition the person may experience difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath; feeling sick or vomiting; feeling light-headed or faint; breaking into a cold sweat; and becoming pale. Women are more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
  • The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness of the face, arm, or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include sudden onset of:
  • Numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech;
  • Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes;
  • Difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination;
  • Severe headache with no known cause; and
  • Fainting or unconsciousness.
  • People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

Protect Your Heart

Most of the major cardiovascular disease risk factors can be controlled. Here are a few tips on how to control those risk factors and protect your heart:
 

Get active: 30 minutes of activity a day can help prevent heart attack and stroke. Try to make exercise a regular part of your life: use the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way. Being active is also a great way to relieve stress and control your weight, which are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Stop smoking and protect yourself from tobacco: If you stop smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease will be halved within a year and will return to a normal level over time. Avoid smoke-filled environments: exposure to second-hand smoke significantly increases the risk of heart attack.

Eat healthy: Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a variety of whole grain products, lean meat, fish, peas, beans, lentils, and foods low in saturated fats. Be wary of processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt. Try to avoid drinking alcohol or if you do drink, make sure it is in moderation. Drink lots of water!
 


Maintain a healthy weight: Keeping a healthy weight and limiting your salt intake will help to control your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. A good way to keep track of a healthy weight is to use BMI (Body-Mass Index) which is a measure of how much body fat is on a person based on their height or weight. To calculate your BMI, you divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height squared (in meters). A healthy adult should keep his or her BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m^2.

Know your numbers: Check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels regularly. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major factor for approximately half of all heart disease and stroke. High blood cholesterol and glucose levels can also place you at greater risk. Try our heart age calculator to see how healthy your heart is before seeking further consultation with your doctor.

Know the warning signs: the sooner assistance is sought, the greater the chances of a full recovery. Learn about CPR and get certified from your local organization so that you are able to help out in case someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest.

Carefully take your medication : Take the medication that your doctor has prescribed and make sure you stick to your regiment. Watch our videos about how the small steps of taking your medication can help.

 

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