Cardiovascular and vascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in Switzerland. By cardiovascular diseases, we mean a whole host of illnesses that affect the blood vessels – in particular the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart, the carotid arteries, which carry blood to the brain, and arteries which supply the other organs. The main cause of heart attacks, strokes and obstructed arteries is Atherosclerosis, which is itself caused by smoking.
Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes deposits to build up in the arteries. Fatty materials (principally bad cholesterol, known as “LDL-C”), blood cells, calcium deposits and other particles accumulate in and damage the arteries. They form what’s known as arterial plaque. The plaque builds up over time and the condition has different stages.
Smoking promotes the development of this illness, firstly because carbon monoxide takes the place of oxygen in the red blood cells and thickens the blood, and then because the substances present in tobacco speed up the heart rate and increase blood pressure. In addition, cigarette smoke increases the quantity of “bad cholesterol” (LDH) and fibrinogen, meaning that it brings an increased risk of blood clots [read more ]. The combination of these phenomena damages the arteries and veins, causing them to wear away prematurely..
Do you know about Buerger’s disease?
Buerger’s disease is a rare but extremely devastating illness. The only recognized treatment at the present time is smoking cessation. The association that fights this rare illness tries to make people aware that it is caused by smoking! Its staff helps and encourages those affected to stop smoking tobacco or cannabis. To find out more, read this article about the illness.
What puts you at higher risk of developing cardiovascular problems?
In the second half of the 20th century, several factors were identified as causing cardiovascular diseases.
They fall into two groups:
1 - Modifiable risk factors, which people can treat or control in order to avoid such diseases from occurring. These factors are linked to lifestyle and include smoking (which doubles the chances of cardiovascular disease and remains the number one avoidable risk!), alcohol, an inactive lifestyle, stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
2 - Non-modifiable risk factors, which depend on each individual and are related to age, sex, and personal and family history.
When several of these factors combine in an individual, that person faces a higher risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. For example, if you smoke and also have a history of heart attacks in your family, you are putting yourself at serious risk.
The main risk factors are the following:
- Being over 50 if you are a man, or over 60 if you are a woman
- A family history of early heart problems (before age 55 for your father, or age 65 for your mother)
- Smoking now or up until less than 3 years ago
- Type 2 diabetes (whether treated or not)
- Constant high blood pressure (whether treated or not)
- Low “good cholesterol” (HDL-C < 0.40g/l)
- High “bad cholesterol” (LDL-C 1.60 g/l) with no other risk factors