Cardiovascular diseases cause 30% of all deaths registered in Brazil and in the world. Data from PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) show that they were the cause of death for 18 million people in 2016 — 85% due to heart attacks and strokes (cerebrovascular accidents). It is also worth noting that the burden of cardiovascular disease is even greater in low- and middle-income countries, which concentrate most of these deaths
But what would be the main risk factors for a heart attack? Among them we can highlight, for example, high cholesterol, hypertension (“high blood pressure”), smoking and diabetes, according to Interheart, a classic survey that was carried out in 52 countries. “Infarction is a disease of lifestyle and poor adaptation to urbanization”, sentences physician Otavio Berwanger, member of Socesp (Society of Cardiology of the State of São Paulo) In this sense, these factors such as cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes occur in good measure of sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and obesity.
By adjusting these habits and also not smoking (or participating in smoking cessation programs), it would be possible to prevent most heart attacks. “These measures are effective, safe, cost-effective if applicable anywhere”, points out Berwanger, who is also director of the ARO (Academic Research Organization), a unit of the Albert Einstein Israeli Beneficent Society that coordinates large-scale clinical research.
Despite the possibility of control and treatment, these four risk factors are highly prevalent in the Brazilian population. “We have a high number of people with high cholesterol, which can reach 40%. Already 28% have hypertension and around 15% diabetes. And sometimes the patient has more than one of these problems,” warns Berwanger.
One challenge is to make Brazilians aware of the importance of caring for cardiovascular health. A survey carried out in 2017 by the SBC (Brazilian Society of Cardiology) indicated that 67% of respondents were unaware of their cholesterol levels, for example.
It is the result of a blockage in an artery that carries blood to the heart. As a result, the heart muscle cells begin to die.
Chest pain—which can radiate to the left arm—a feeling of tightness in the chest, excessive sweating, pallor, and change in heart rate are the main symptoms. But heart attack can be asymptomatic, especially among the elderly and patients with diabetes. Therefore, it is important to have medical follow-up and to undergo exams frequently.
A heart attack is more common after 45 years of age — the risk increases with advancing age. Among the preventive measures to avoid clogging the arteries are the practice of physical exercise, proper nutrition, smoking cessation and adequate control of risk factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.