The contents of this page have been produced by a team of physicians and experts of the Italian Institute of Telemedicine in compliance with the recommendations of the latest medical and scientific guidelines. Institutional communication not subject to authorisation pursuant to the Ministerial Decree 23/02/2006 .
What do we mean by cardiovascular disease?
The cardiovascular diseases can be grouped together in one macro-group which relates to all the pathologies affecting the heart and/or the blood vessels.
Among the most widespread diseases the one with the highest impact is the coronary disease, which can cause angina pectoris and myocardial infarction if underestimated or not timely treated.
For sake of readability we can group the pathologies of the cardiovascular system this way:
- Angina pectoris
- Myocardial infarction
- Cardiocirculatory or heart failure
- Cerebral stroke
- Renal failure
- Peripheral vascular disease
How widespread are the cardiovascular diseases worldwide?
The cardiovascular diseases have the unfortunate distinction to be the main cause of death in Italy, with approximately 250 thousand deaths a year. Not better at world level with approximately 7 million deaths a year due to coronary disease.
What are the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases?
Atherosclerosis, i. e. the formation of cholesterol plaques in the arteries, is the main cause for the development of cardiovascular disease. These plaques clog the arteries limiting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart, to the brain and to the kidneys, as well as to other organs and tissues of the body.
Generally, there are other risk factors, some of them are hereditary, which are often related to an unhealthy lifestyle. Surely, among the most affecting risk factors we have to list the following ones:
- Hypertension (“high blood pressure”, 25-30% of the population)
- Dyslipidemia (high lipid level in the blood, 25-30%)
- Obesity or overweight> (10-15%)
- Diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar levels, 5%)
These risk factors cause a higher occurrence (two to four times more for each factor) of the cardiovascular diseases if compared with a healthy individual. The data are even more alarming when two or more factors are combined: in such case their arising increases even 10-20 times.
Being hypertension one of the main risk factors of cardiovascular diseases, a blood pressure monitoring is always recommended, especially for at-risk subjects
How to identify the cardiovascular risk factors?
The cardiovascular risk factors can be identified by means of routine tests and exams (such as, for instance, the blood pressure measurement), to be performed either at healthcare facilities or at home thanks to telemedicine services connected with medical personnel, such as THOLOMEUS®
Below you’ll find a comprehensive table for assessing the existence of any cardiovascular risk factor:
|Cardiovascular risk factor||Assessment method||Assessment frequency (healthy subjects)||Abnormal values|
|HypertensionBlood pressure measurement||Blood pressure measurement||Once a year||Systolic pressure (maximum) ≥140 mmHg and/or diastolic (minimum) ≥90 mmHg measured at the medical practice|
|Dyslipidemia||Measurement of cholesterol and triglycerides (“lipids”) dosing in the blood||Every 1-2 years||Total cholesterol >190 mg/dL or LDL (“bad”) cholesterol >115 mg/dL or HDL (“good”) cholesterol <40 mg/dL in male or <50 mg/dL in female or triglycerides ≥150 mg/dL|
|Central obesity||Measurement of height and body weight||Once a month||Body mass index (BMI, weight/height squared) ≥30 Kg/m²|
|Visceral obesity||Abdominal circumference (waistline)||Once a month||≥94 cm in male or ≥80 cm in female|
|Overweight||Measurement of height and body weight||Once a month||Body mass index (BMI, weight/height squared) ≥25 and <30 Kg/m²|
|Diabetes||Measurement of blood glucose (glycaemia)||Every 1-2 years||Fasting blood glucose ≥126 mg/dL or glycosylated haemoglobin ≥6.5%|
|Glucose intolerance||Measurement of blood glucose (glycaemia)||Every 1-2 years||Fasting blood glucose ≥100 and <126 mg/dL or glycosylated haemoglobin ≥5.7% and <6.5%|
How can we prevent the cardiovascular diseases ?
Prevention consists of easy rules anyone can comply with, to eliminate or to reduce the risk factors. Changing the lifestyle is basilar as well as taking, only upon recommendation of the physician, specific medications intervening on specific parameters.
Generally, to modify your lifestyle it would be sufficient:
- To eat 4-5 portions a day of fruits and vegetables
- To reduce the lipids with the diet, first of all the saturated ones, (limit the consumption of red meat, butter and full-fat cheese)
- To reduce the salt, which can let your pressure increase (less than 5 g a day, one spoon)
- Not to smoke
- To limit the alcohol (not more than 1-2 glasses of wine a day)
- To exercise at least 30-40 minutes a day (walking, cycling, swimming, jogging…)
- To avoid as much as possible any stressful situation
- To measure periodically the level of the risk factors and of the physiological parameters
- To take medicines only under medical supervision