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Cardiovascular

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the general term for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels, usually because of the build-up of fat in the arteries. It can also refer to damage to the arteries in the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

Types of Cardiovascular Disease

There are four main types of CVD:

What causes CVD?

The exact cause isn’t clear, but there are lots of things that can increase your risk of getting it.

The Risk Factors

These ‘risk factors’ include:

  • high blood pressure;
  • high cholesterol;
  • smoking;
  • diabetes;
  • inactivity;
  • being overweight or obese;
  • having a family history of CVD;
  • your ethnic background; and
  • factors such as age, gender, diet and alcohol intake.

The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing CVD.

If you’re over 40, you’ll be invited for a NHS Health Check every five years. Part of this check will be to assess your individual CVD risk by looking at heart health, cholesterol levels and monitoring your blood pressure.

How can I reduce the risk of CVD?

  1. Stop smoking – the NHS Smokefree website can help with information, support and advice. Your GP might also be able to prescribe medication that can help you give up.

  2. Have a balanced diet – this is recommended for a healthy heart. Try and cut down on saturated fats, salt and sugar, and eat more fruit, vegetables and fibre.

  3. Exercise regularly – adults are advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, such as brisk walking or cycling. Start off gradually and increase as your fitness improves.

  4. Maintain a healthy weight – a combination of healthy diet and exercise will help you lose weight. If you’re struggling, your GP or practice nurse can help you put together a weight loss plan.

  5. Cut down on alcohol – try not to exceed the recommended limit of 14 alcohol units a week. One unit is roughly equivalent to half a pint of normal strength lager or a single measure of spirits, and there are 1.5 units in a small glass of wine.

  6. Medication – if you have a particularly high risk of CVD, your GP might recommend taking medication to cut the risk.