Cardiovascular disease, the UK’s biggest killer, will account for 155,000 deaths in the UK this year.
That figure constitutes 27% of all deaths in the UK and reflects global figures categorising cardiovascular disease the biggest killer in the western world. This figure is all the more astonishing when we consider cardiovascular disease is a predominantly lifestyle disease. In other words we are dying from a disease we make through our lifestyle rather than a disease we catch in our environment. It is also remarkable to see these mortality figures rising despite advancing developments in medicine and a large scale reduction in cigarette smoking. So, how do we go about avoiding cardiovascular disease?
A common misconception about heart disease
One of the common misconceptions with cardiovascular disease is that it is a disease itself. Cardiovascular disease is a term that encompasses a range of diseases affecting the heart or blood vessel of the body. The biggest killer within the cardiovascular disease bracket is coronary heart disease, the progressive narrowing and blocking of the key blood vessels providing oxygen to the heart muscle. A lack of oxygen to the heart will result in what people understand as a heart attack, or if the lack of oxygen is to the brain this is called a stroke. It is the same process underlying both diseases it just affects a different region of the body.
The reason for the rise in cardiovascular disease is simple. We are increasingly leading a lifestyle that is in direct opposition to sustaining a healthy circulatory system. Our lifestyle directly affects elements that circulate within our blood causing irritation and scarring to the walls of our arteries. Over months and years this damage comes to a dangerous position where the blood vessel can no longer work effectively. To avoid cardiovascular disease we need to understand where the problems lie.
Is this all about reducing cholesterol?
So what is it in our lifestyle that is driving this irritation and scarring of the arterial walls?
- A lack of daily movement and increasingly sedentary lifestyle
- High levels of body fat, specifically around the waist area
- Heightened incidence of diabetes and generally poor blood sugar control
- A diet low in fibre and phytonutrients from vegetables and fruit
- Poor sleep depth and quality
- High stress levels and poor levels of daily recovery
- A diet low in fish oils but also good fats from nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil
- Exposure to environmental toxicity and pollution.
People, and medicine, continue to incorrectly focus on the outputs from these behaviours rather than the behaviours themselves. As such, terms such as cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes are more commonly discussed than the 8 factors noted above. However, the approach to medicate individual risk factors, such as reducing cholesterol, rather than the behaviour driving those risk factors is proving a failing and outdated approach.
It is fair to argue most people are dying from a disease they did not understand and could, and should, have taken control of their lifestyle earlier in their lifespan, to avoid cardiovascular disease
At Viavi:be we believe control of your health comes from controlling the very root cause of disease – an imbalanced lifestyle. Of course, most of us are alerted to an issue in the first place by clarion calls to reduce cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. To understand how to rebalance your lifestyle when the issue of cardiovascular disease arises requires insight into the critical role of exercise, diet, sleep, recovery and environment.
We can help you take control of your lifestyle today – we will show you all you can do to avoid cardiovascular disease being a part of your future health.