Lifestyle diseases

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Saturday, March 8, 2014


RECENT studies show that cardiovascular disease remain as the No. 1 cause of death in the Philippines, Davao City Health Office (CHO) head Dr. Josephine Villafuerte said.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term that describes a disease of the heart or blood vessels that includes, such as coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, and deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

"Cardiovascular disease usually relates to developing hypertension – it develops due to diabetes mellitus – and it develops especially if one failed to have a healthy lifestyle. If people don’t know how to manage their lifestyle then, they will end up having a hypertension or cardiovascular disease," Villafuerte said.

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Villafuerte said heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot, if this clot cuts off the blood flow completely; the part of the muscle supplied by the artery begins to die. She added that heart attack and stroke are acute, and having it means one must make lifestyle changes.

Understanding Cardiovascular Disease

Davao CHO–CVD course coordinator Chona G. Dazon said though the number of deaths that are caused by heart disease has decreased because of the advance technologies, this does not mean people are no longer vulnerable to heart disease.

Dazon said a person can still be or will always be vulnerable to cardiovascular disease because of the risk factors, which are actually increasing because of unhealthy lifestyles. She added that lifestyle has a great impact in cardiovascular diseases.

The cardiovascular risk factors can be separated into three categories, the biological risk factors that are non-modifiable; the biological risk factors that are modifiable by treatments or altered lifestyles; and the lifestyle factors that are modifiable.

Non-modifiable means this can be acquired genetically and ethnicity or it could be based on the increasing age. Modifiable, this could be through high blood cholesterol; high blood pressure; overweight and obesity; and diabetes -- stage two. Lifestyle risk factors, these are smoking; diet; inactivity and excessive alcohol.

"Let's proceed to lifestyle risk factors kasi dyan naman talaga yan nagsisimula. This is what will happen… hypertension and smoking double your chance of developing heart disease if you have high cholesterol -- and these factors make it eight times more likely to develop heart disease," Dazon said.

Dazon said aside from hypertension and smoking, obesity and being overweight increases the chance of developing high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. She said that obesity plus hypertension plus physical inactivity increases the risk of heart attack.

Another CVD risk factor is diabetes. The doctor said diabetes is an independent risk factor, which means that having such disease even without the other risk factors may lead to heart disease, because diabetes accelerates development of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of plaques of fatty material in their inner walls. This is the usual cause of heart attack. So, even without the other risk factors, diabetes alone could still lead to cardiovascular disease, Villafuerte said.

Diabetes becomes a huge and growing problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded in 2012 about 347 million people worldwide have diabetes. It said that more than 80 percent of diabetes deaths occur in low-and-middle income countries.

Among the symptoms of diabetes are always worn-out and hungry, frequent urination, sexual problems, sudden weight loss, wounds that would not heal, infection, numb, tingling hands and feet, always thirsty and blurry vision.

"In fact, diabetic mellitus is becoming one of the leading causes of morbidity in the country, even here in Davao City. Whether you are rich or poor once you are diabetic you are also vulnerable to cardiovascular disease," Villafuerte said, adding that 65 percent of those with diabetes die of heart disease and stroke.

CVD is a major complication of diabetes and the leading cause of early death among those with diabetes worldwide. Adult with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke than people without diabetes, Dazon explained.

She said high blood glucose in adults with diabetes increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, angina and coronary artery disease, while people with staged-two diabetes would also have high rates of high blood pressure, lipid problems, and obesity, which contributes to their high rates of cardiovascular disease.

To prevent CVD

Lifestyle changes are highly recommended. Villafuerte said most deaths caused by the CVD are premature and can be prevented through eating healthy diet and no smoking. She added that living healthy lifestyle will reduce the risk and avoid CVD.

Other preventions includes check-ups, monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise regularly–this help maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure, limit alcohol use, manage diabetes, and take medicine.

"For those who have already heart disease, a regular checkup with your cardiologist is a must… and so is taking your prescribed medicines. Meanwhile, patients who underwent bypass surgery must undergo a cardiac rehab," Villafuerte said.

Davao City initiatives for healthy lifestyle

The City Health Office (CHO) implemented a three-year Diabetes Project in 10 pilot barangays here since 2007. The office implemented its first CVD Program with the City Government of Davao in 2010 -- with its local inclusive development approach concentrating on the capacity building of service providers.

The CVD Program aims to prevent the onset and control the rising incidence of diabetes, hypertension and other CVD risks with its resulting complications and disabilities by increasing access to environment and services for CVD risk prevention and management.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 08, 2014.

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