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Physical activity and cardiovascular disease - Term Paper Example

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Cardiovascular disease is a major health problem in the United States of America. It has remained the leading cause of death for almost 50 years. According to the data of the American Heart Association, deaths due to cardiovascular disease, specifically coronary heart disease have steadily risen in the twentieth century…
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Physical activity and cardiovascular disease
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Download file to see previous pages In 1900, coronary heart disease was believed to have caused 27,000 deaths. These numbers increased progressively to peak at a rate of 770,000 deaths in 1985. Since then, due to sustained campaigns by various association in increasing awareness of various health lifestyle habits, deaths due to coronary heart disease has reduced to 446,000 in 2005. However, overall, cardiovascular diseases still caused 850,000 deaths in adult population in 2005. This represents a large burden on the healthcare system, consuming scarce resources and manpower. A majority of these deaths are considered to be preventable through lifestyle modifications. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease Several risk factors have been identified for cardiovascular disease. These include hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, elevated LDL and VLDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, elevated homocysteine levels, obesity, stress, smoking and sedentary lifestyle. By bringing about certain simple lifestyle changes, these risk factors can be greatly reduced or eliminated, thus, greatly decreasing the morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. The commonest three lifestyle changes that can be practiced by everyone are cessation of smoking, dietary modifications and physical activity. The benefits of smoking are self-evident. Johnston has clearly shown the benefits of simple dietary modifications. (Johnston, 2009). Two specific diets, viz., the Mediterranean diet and vegetarian diets were discussed. The Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts and seeds and olive oil. Red meat is rarely eaten and fish and dairy products are eaten sparingly. The vegetarian diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and dairy products. These food substances are high in anti-oxidants and polyphenols (protective substances against coronary heart disease) and low in arachidonic acid (increases risk for coronary heart disease). The types of foods included in these two diets are collectively called functional foods. Physical activity and cardiovascular disease There have been several studies that have established the connection between lack of physical activity and cardiovascular disease. Framingham is a town outside Boston which has become renowned across the world because of a unique experiment which was started in 1948 – to study the population for various aspects of cardiovascular disease and follow the subjects over a prolonged period of time and even unto the second and third generations. As a part of this project, Kannen and Sorlie (1979) studied 1909 men and 2311 women aged 35-64 years and followed them up for 14 years. They tried to find out the relationship between physical activity index based on hours per day spent at activity-specific intensity and cardiovascular disease incidence and death. They found that there was an inverse association between physical activity index and mortality as well as incidence of cardiovascular disease. The mortality and incidence also varied inversely according to the duration and intensity of physical exercise. (Kannen and Sorlie, 1979). The INTERHEART study in 2004 established physical inactivity as one of the 9 major contributors to deaths due to cardiac disease. It was an international, multi-center case-control study to identify the risk factors for myocardial infarction and the magnitude of their impact. The study identified 9 easily measured risk factors that account for over 90% of the risk for acute myocardial infarction. These risk factors are smoking, blood lipid levels, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, diet, physical ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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