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© 2017 by Trinidad and Tobago Heart Foundation. 

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the number 1 cause of death globally: more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause.  
- World Health Organization

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Trinidad and Tobago and around the world, causing an average of 17.9 million deaths each year.

 

Heart disease affects the heart and blood vessels and can result in a number of problems, many of which are directly related to a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the gradual clogging of the arteries that supply blood to your heart, brain and other vital organs. Fatty material called plaque slowly builds up on the inner walls of the arteries causing them to narrow.  This increases the risk of a blood clot forming, which can block the artery cutting off the blood supply. 

This can cause a heart attack or stroke. Often, there are no symptoms of the underlying disease of the blood vessels. A heart attack or stroke may be the first warning of underlying disease.

There is no single cause of CVD, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing it. There are 'modifiable' risk factors (ones that you can control or change) and 'non-modifiable' risk factors (ones that you can't change).

 

Modifiable Risk Factors include:

  • Smoking - both actively smoking and second-hand smoke

  • High Blood Pressure

  • High Cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • Lack of Exercise

  • Obesity

  • Depression

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors include:

  • Age - The older you are, the more likely you are to develop coronary heart disease or to have a cardiac event.

  • Family history of heart disease.

  • Ethnicity - people of South Asian and African descent are more at risk.

While you may not be able to control these risk factors, making healthy changes to your lifestyle will significantly reduce the risk of you developing  heart disease prematurely.

  • Quit smoking, and try to avoid second-hand smoke.

  • Treat high blood pressure.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Limit saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium (salt).

  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight.

  • Control your blood sugar especially if you have diabetes.

  • See your doctor for regular check-ups.

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed.