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What is cardiovascular disease and how is it associated with other conditions?



Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is often associated with a heart attack, angina or a TIA (transient ischemic attack or stroke). But CVD does not just happen suddenly. In many cases, it is as a result of other health conditions and lifestyle choices that have led to this destination.


CVD is a generalised term for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels, and this is a broad spectrum.


What is important is that many conditions that are associated with CVD are preventable or manageable and do not always have to result in this outcome.


Understanding the potential causes and early signs can help to decrease the chances of you being diagnosed with heart related conditions and early preventative steps can be vital.


Over the next few months, we will be discussing several conditions that are associated with CVD and how making simple changes both mentally and physically can dramatically change the course you are on.


In this first blog, we are going to focus on stress.


Stress can take on many forms. It can happen on one occasion, or it can be part of a long-term problem.


There aren’t many people in the world who can honestly say that they have never felt stressed at one stage or another but the severity of it can vary.


In simple terms, stress is your body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. Fight or flight! In the face of a demanding situation, you release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which can prepare your body to take action by increasing your heart rate or breath rates.


In some cases, stress can make you feel physically ill. You may feel as though you are constantly coming down with something, which is your body’s way of defending itself against what it thinks is an attack.


In most cases, stress can be managed but sometimes, a person may suffer with long term stress and that can have a detrimental effect on your body and mind in the long run.


It often takes time for someone to recognise the signs of chronic stress but acknowledging the symptoms early can be vital for your long-term health.


There are many reasons that someone may suffer with this illness, and it is something that can happen unexpectedly. It isn’t necessarily something you are prone to, it can simply be in response to a life occurrence such as,


  • Workplace stress

  • Financial worries

  • Grief

  • Relationship challenges

Sometimes, when the situation comes to a head, your stress levels will calm but occasionally, your body’s reaction will continue.


Signs of chronic stress

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Loss of concentration

  • Mood swings

  • Changes in appetite

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Breathlessness


These are just a few examples of the signs you could experience and will differ from person to person.


You will note that some of these signs are also symptoms of cardiovascular disease as well as other conditions so it is important to seek medical advice should you experience any or all of them.


What can you do to prevent or overcome chronic stress?


Although there is evidence to show that long-term stress can result in other, more serious conditions, making changes to your lifestyle can dramatically decrease, if not irradicate the signs above and your chances of it developing into something more serious.


There is a lot of guidance on the internet about how to manage stress, but the truth is, one size does not fit all.


We know that exercise and a balanced diet contribute to a healthy lifestyle but what exercise and what kind of diet very much depends on the individual.


The most important thing to do is to prepare yourself mentally for change. If you’re not ready to embrace a lifestyle change for good, then any advice you are likely to receive will be short lived.


Once you have recognised that there is a problem, and you truly want to make a change, engage with a professional who will view your situation as unique to you. They will work with you to create a lifestyle that you can implement easily and sustain for good.


Knowledge is power and by working with a qualified professional to establish a healthier routine, you will understand the science behind your decisions.


For example, it may be common knowledge that Omega-3 is a great energy source and can help keep your heart, lungs, blood vessels and immune system healthy but how do you know how much you need? No one body is the same so the levels we need are different.


The right person will work to identify your individual needs and create a plan that will not only make you feel better and reduce your chances of developing a serious heart condition but a plan that you can enjoy and sustain.


Are you ready to make that change?


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