Cardiovascular or Heart disease is a major cause of death worldwide. It generally refers to disorders of the heart or blood vessels that might arise from narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke. Dyslipidemia, which is characterized by an imbalance in the level of total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C, and triglycerides is a leading risk factor of Heart disease.
Factors that may elevate your risk of developing heart disease include:
- Being 65 years of age or older
- Family history of lipid disorders
- Being Diabetic
- Being hypertensive
- Having Chronic Kidney Disease
- Being a smoker
- History of congestive heart failure
- History of prior coronary bypass surgery
- Being HIV +
- Following a diet high in saturated and trans fats
What is the link?
The more the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the more intensive the intervention to prevent development of a heart disease. People who have low levels of HDL-C are more prone to cardiovascular disease. The protective effect of HDL-C is more prominent when the levels are more than 60 mg/dl. Evaluation of the LDL to HDL ratio is important for prediction of coronary events including myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac deaths. High triglyceride level is also implicated in the development of cardiac heart disease.
Prevention of coronary events requires management of the lipid levels to ward off narrowing of blood vessels and the formation of plaques. The plaques are usually filled with lipids and can rapture and cause fatal atherosclerosis. It is the fat filled plaques that narrow the diameter of the arteries and make the blood vessels less elastic. Eventually, the heart does not get enough oxygen leading to a condition called angina. Reducing the level of LDL is bound to eliminate fatty deposits within the walls of the arteries. Besides, lowering the lipid levels can restore the proper functioning of the blood vessels.
Lifestyle Interventions for preventing or managing Dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disease
- Dietary Interventions
The kind of fats that you consume determine your heart’s health. It is advisable to increase the consumption of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The former reduces the level of LDL-C while omega 3 fatty acids will reduce triglyceride concentrations and minimize the risk of blood clot formation. Besides, consuming such fats boosts the anti-inflammatory capacity of the body. Your diet should be rich in olive oils, canola oils, nuts, fatty fish, and flaxseeds. Avoid intake of saturated and trans-fat. Besides, you should limit cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day. Sodium is known to increase blood pressure and should be replaced with herbs and spices. Sweets and sugary drinks should a taboo especially for individuals who are overweight or diabetic. Dietary fiber, especially the soluble variety lowers the level of LDL-C and is critical for the management of body weight. Antioxidants from dietary sources such as fruits and vegetables protect the walls of the arteries and prevents the development of atherosclerosis. The antioxidant called phytoestrogen is implicated in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and is present in soybeans, and flaxseeds.
- Physical Activity
Below are some benefits of engaging in physical activity:
- Lower incidences of lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease
- Proper weight and blood pressure management
- Increased HDL-C and lower triglyceride levels
- Stronger muscles
- Decreased anxiety and stress levels
- Good quality of sleep
It is recommended that you should set aside at least 30 minutes for physical activity 5 times a week. Aerobic exercises will improve your cardio fitness levels. Try and engage in exercises that are fun or join a cardiac rehabilitation program. Here are some activities that can be fun:
- Walking to the shop
- Using the staircase instead of an elevator
- Walking your dog
- Cycling, skating, or swimming
- Doing some gardening work
- Weight Reduction
Obese and overweight individuals should undertake weight reduction measures because it lowers LDL cholesterol. Individuals who have a Body Mass Index of ≥30 kg/m2(obesity) or 25-29.9 kg/m2(overweight) should join weigh loss programs especially if they are exposed to more than 2 risk factors. Men and women should strive to have a waist circumference of >102 and >88 cm respectively.
- Smoking Cessation
Smoking is associated with high cholesterol levels and cessation has a major impact on the risk of cardiovascular diseases. For instance, smoking increases the levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol while reducing the level of HDL cholesterol. Available interventions include nicotine replacement and individual counselling.
- Alcohol Consumption
Moderate alcohol intake increases the level of HDL cholesterol and suppresses the level of cardiovascular biomarkers. However, excess alcohol consumption remains dangerous and it is advisable to limit intake to 2 and 1 standard drink for men and women respectively.
In instances where lifestyle interventions alone are not enough to control dyslipidemia, or the risks are too high, medication such as statins can be prescribed by your doctor.