What is cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of disease burden and death in Australia, affecting an estimated 1 in 6 Australians, and causing nearly 30% of deaths. Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions of the heart and blood vessels. Common conditions referred to under cardiovascular disease include:
Stroke – either a blockage or breakage of blood vessels in the brain
Heart failure – an inability for the heart to supply enough blood to the body resulting in reduced physical capacity and fatigue
Coronary or ischemic heart disease – two common types are a myocardial infarction (heart attack) a complete blockage often causing irreversible tissue damage, and angina which causes chest pain
Peripheral vascular disease – abnormalities of the blood vessels throughout the body (excluding heart and brain) which can lead to blockage or rupture
Congenital heart disease – a defect in the heart or central blood vessels that is present from birth
How is cardiovascular disease treated?
Although cardiovascular disease isn’t to be taken lightly, there are many things in our control that can reduce our risk and slow the progression. Important modifiable factors within our control include exercise and activity levels, smoking, diet, alcohol consumption, weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Depending on the progression of the disease, medications may be beneficial, and you may be a candidate for a surgical procedure, in addition to addressing the lifestyle factors listed above.
How can an Exercise Physiologist help?
An exercise physiologist will assess your current aerobic capacity, strength and posture to better understand your current fitness levels. As mentioned above, activity levels play a large role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease, and it is essential to create a routine that incorporates regular physical activity. An exercise physiologist can guide you through the process of finding the most beneficial and enjoyable exercise to get you moving and feeling better.