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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:
more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause.  

What is Cardiovascular or Heart Disease?

Cardiovascular disease is actually a broad term used for a wide variety of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. To clarify, the TTHF uses the term cardiovascular disease to primarily refer to coronary artery disease, also called ischemic heart disease or simply, heart disease.

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. 85% of CVD deaths are due to heart attack and 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.​​

Diagnosing Cardiovascular Disease:

Getting a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease will depend on your symptoms and what condition your doctor thinks you may have. A doctor should examine your medical and family history, your risk factors, and conduct a physical examination. If necessary, they can combine their findings with results from tests and procedures.

Cardiovascular diseases are diagnosed using a range of laboratory tests and imaging studies. Some of the common tests used to diagnose cardiovascular diseases include:

  • Blood test

  • Stress test

  • Chest x-ray

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)

  • Echocardiogram (Echo)

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

  • Electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT)

  • Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography

Risk Factors:

Risk factors are conditions or habits that increase your risk of developing a disease. The good news is many risk factors are 'modifiable' risk factors, ones that you can control or change. 'Non-modifiable' risk factors are ones that you cannot 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 all 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.

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