It is true that cardiovascular system diseases that are a major cause of deaths globally can be prevented and controlled by simple measures like regular physical activity, avoidance of tobacco use in any form, and adoption of healthy dietary practices.
Over 80% of CVS disease deaths take place in low-and middle-income countries and occur almost equally in men and women. The major cause for this high mortality in those countries is the result of a major shift of tobacco promotion in recent years.
Use of unhealthy fast foods is a growing trend the world over, and the developing countries are no exception. In the developing countries the healthy indigenous traditional food stuffs are being fast replaced by packed commercialized foods whose major victims are growing children and women.
Fighting Cardiovascular System (CVS) Diseases
Besides influencing high incidence of CVS diseases, fast or junk foods add to cost, whereas indigenous foods are healthier and cheaper. Experts believe that traditional foods of a country are more healthy, nutritious and economic. The only issue would be their hygienic delivery and intake.
High blood pressure has no symptoms, but can cause a sudden stroke or heart attack. Diabetes increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Being overweight increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Low socioeconomic status increases the chances of exposure to risk factors and increases the vulnerability to develop CVS diseases.
The Economic Costs of CVS Diseases
The CVS diseases have grave effect on individual and country’s levels. These diseases affect many people in middle age, very often severely limiting the income and savings of affected individuals and their families. Lost earnings and out of pocket health care payments undermine the socioeconomic development of communities and nations.
At country’s level CVS diseases place a heavy burden on the economies of countries. It is estimated that over the next 10 years (2006-2015), China will lose $558 billion in foregone
National income due to the combination of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Prevention and control of CVS Diseases:
Prevention of CVS diseases is not a difficult proposition. There are measures involving lifestyle changes and those involving giving up habits of tobacco and alcohol use.
The various simple measures, if regularly pursued, can help prevent heart attack and stokes to a great extent:
· Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day of the week
· Eating at least four servings of fruits and vegetables a day
· Limiting salt intake to less than one teaspoon a day
· Maintain an ideal body weight by exercise and eating healthy diet
The habits of tobacco use in any form are harmful and are an invitation to CVS diseases. For a habitual user giving up the habit of tobacco use is a challenge, and it can be left only by a strong will and facing this changeover, as a challenge. Stopping tobacco use reduces the chance of a heart attack and stroke.
Some measures which can be taken at every individual level are:
· Know your numbers: Use simple charts to determine your risk of developing a heart attack or a stroke
· Check blood pressure and cholesterol regularly, and keep them under control.
· If diabetic, check sugar levels regularly and keep it in control
In addition, measures are required to reduce the risks throughout the entire population and by targeting individuals at high risk or with established disease. Examples of population-wide interventions that can be implemented include:
· Comprehensive tobacco control policies
· Taxation to reduce the intake of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt
· Building walking and cycle ways to increase physical activity
· Providing healthy school meals to children
· Making available effective and inexpensive medication to treat CVS diseases
The risk of a recurrence or death, after a heart attack or stroke, can be substantially lowered by adoption of a combination of life style changes and drugs – statins to lower cholesterol, drugs to lower blood pressure, and aspirin to prevent stroke.
For prevention and control of CVDs and other chronic diseases, all governments need to make substantial investment under dedicated national programs, following best management practices and good governance.