Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is a term related to those diseases that affect the circulatory system or blood vessels (arteries and veins). Examples of such diseases are atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, thromboembolism, and stroke. Although the term technically can cover all diseases in cardiovascular system, it usually means ailments related to atherosclerosis.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Europe and in most industrialized countries, accounting for 42.9% of deaths in 2004. It is most common in southern Europe.
Stopping smoking is one of the most effective measures to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Regular cardiovascular exercises as well as healthy eating habits with a low proportion of saturated fat are good additions to reduce the risk. It means that you get a favorable lipoprotein profile with high HDL levels (“good cholesterol”) and low LDL levels (“bad cholesterol”).
Should you not lower cholesterol levels in serum by dieting, you can use drugs to lower your cholesterol, such as Statins. Aspirin may also be helpful, as it decreases blood coagulation that can lead to myocardial infarction and stroke. In addition, studies have shown reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases when diet is rich in antioxidants. Therefore, it is recommended to intake 500 g of fruit and vegetables per day. Today most researches are focused on cardiovascular disease prevention through the healthy diet and lifestyle-changing actions.
Sara Holmberg, Anders Thelin and Eva-Lena Stiernström together have made a scientific study of how diet affects the risk of cardiovascular disease. Over 12 years, they observed Swedish male rural residents. The idea was to find out if any specific type of food or any special routines have no apparent impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to previous studies and years of research, it is known today that coronary heart disease, such as angina and heart attack, are linked to the different life factors, such as physical activity, smoking, and stress. These studies show that a limited number of dietary factors and patterns are associated with coronary artery disease.
Today, there is four main guidelines regarding diet. These nutritional recommendations are:
- Eat fruits and vegetables every day.
- Eat bread with every meal, preferably whole grain bread.
- Eat less saturated fat, choose liquid margarine or oil for cooking.
- Eat fish several times a week.
However, it is difficult to say specifically what kind of diet you should keep to prevent and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. There exist certain theories that enables us to draw some conclusions that should be reasonable according to previous studies.
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