Heart disease and strokes

Posted on 14 August 2012

Meet our expert Dr Lior Sareli, a specialist physician at Mediclinic Cape Gate.

Why do I need to know about cardiovascular disease? There’s nothing wrong with my heart…
Here’s the crux: cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the developed world, and it develops silently and quietly inside us. But it is easily detectable if we simply take the time to look out for ourselves. The most important thing to know is that cardiovascular disease could happen to you.

What is cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease includes such incidents as heart attacks, strokes, ruptured major blood vessels and blocked peripheral arteries causing limb pain and amputations. It is caused by blockages within our blood vessels by a process called atherosclerosis, whereby we get an increase of plaque in the lining of our blood vessels, which causes narrowing and slows down the blood supply downstream. This plaque formation can also rupture, causing an immediate blockage of an artery with the devastating consequence of organ failure in the organ now no longer getting blood.

How would I know if I am at high risk of cardiovascular disease?
The major risk factors for accelerated atherosclerosis are:
• smoking
• diabetes and other abnormalities of sugar control
• hypertension
• cholesterol abnormalities
These are especially risky if a close family member has had a premature cardiovascular event.

How do I get my cardiac health checked?
A clinic sister, your GP, or even a specialist physician if you have a strong family history of cardiovascular disease, would all be able to assess your health. A clinical exam, and urine and blood tests would be all it takes to evaluate the possible risk.

I am at risk of cardiovascular disease. Now what?
Chances are you need to change your lifestyle, as in most cases being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle creates and often compounds most of the cardiovascular risk factors. This may include:
• losing weight
• adopting a healthy diet
• regular exercise
• if these are not working, you may need oral or injectable medication

If you have any questions on heart disease or stroke, click on the Facebook link to post them there, or add them as a comment on this post. For questions specific to your condition, talk to your doctor. To find a Mediclinic doctor near you, click on the FIND A DOCTOR/HOSPITAL link on the right.

Published in Cardiology

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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