The prevention of cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in many Western countries and are constantly increasing also in developing countries. Risk factors that depend on our lifestyle are responsible for over 90% of cardiovascular diseases. Here are some good prevention tips.

Cardiovascular diseases affect the heart and blood vessels. These include ischemic heart diseases such as heart attack and angina pectoris, cerebral stroke, cardiocirculatory failure, peripheral vascular diseases and those affecting the renal vessels.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in many Western countries and are constantly increasing even in developing countries. If in the early 1900s mortality from cardiovascular diseases was just under 9%, in the 1960s it had already risen to 30% to reach more than 40% today, winning first place among the “diseases of well-being”, caused by overeating, pollution and a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, those who survive a cardiovascular event become chronically ill, with a worsening of their quality of life and entailing high economic costs for themselves and for society.

Cardiovascular risk factors are divided into non-modifiable (age, sex, genetics) and modifiable (smoking, arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus, abdominal obesity, sedentary lifestyle, nutrition and psychosocial factors). The most important aspect is that modifiable risk factors are responsible for 90% in men and 94% in women of the overall risk of cardiovascular disease, also significantly attenuating the contribution of genetic predisposition. As can be seen from the list, they are totally linked to our lifestyle and small daily tricks would be enough to save the lives of thousands of individuals every year.

To minimize the risk of a cardiovascular event, we should:

  • Take 4-5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day (about 400 grams)
  • Limit the consumption of saturated fats and red meat
  • Consume fish regularly (at least twice a week)
  • Reduce the consumption of salt to less than 5 grams per day
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day (it is not necessary to do sports: walking, climbing stairs, gardening is also enough)
  • Avoid living in a state of constant psychophysical stress 

Hippocrates said that “if we were able to provide everyone with the right amount of nutrition and exercise, neither in excess nor in defect, we would have found the right path to health”. The Mediterranean diet (as well as vegetarian diets) and regular physical activity have proven to be the best allies for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

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