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Health Matters

World Heart Day

João M. Leitão (Cardiologist) . 29/09/2016

European Guidelines on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice: prevention of disability and early mortality caused by cardiovascular diseases with the help of measures aiming to modify unhealthy lifestyles, control risk factors and, whenever justified, recur to prophylactic prescription of some drugs.

European Guidelines on CVD Prevention – Fourth Joint European Societies’ Task Force on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice

Cardiovascular diseases, especially coronary artery disease, are the main cause of death in middle aged and elderly people in most European countries and generally in all developed countries in the world.

Myocardial infarction, stroke and carotid artery disease represent the expression of atherosclerosis, a disease which starts to develop many years before a severe accident occurs and contributes to an increase on cardiovascular mortality – often in a sudden and totally unexpected way.

Detection of atherosclerosis in a pre-clinical stage, before severe symptoms or accidents are registered, is a Primary Prevention Strategy. It aims to identify persons belonging to higher risk groups. This strategy is based on the ability to find clues or signs of the disease in appointments and exams for cardiovascular diagnosis – rest and effort ECG, Echocardiogram and Cardiac Doppler, 24h Holter, 24h ABPM (Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring), Vascular Echo-Doppler, Angio-CT and also blood tests to evaluate levels of cholesterol and fats, diabetes, inflammatory markers and kidney functioning.

The concept of Total Cardiovascular Risk covers study and deepened diagnosis of a disease generated by multiple factors, as is atherosclerosis. Combinations of risk factors produce a multiplier effect and so a person presenting several of these factors – even if in a moderate level – may present a considerably higher risk when compared to another person with only one risk factor, even if very high.

The Cardiovascular Risk Assessment plan, with Total Cardiovascular Risk calculation, should be performed every year, even in persons with no symptoms. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, familial dyslipidaemia or early cardiovascular mortality, risk assessment may start to happen as early as the age of 20 years old (affected father or brother at 55 years old or less, affected mother or sister at 65 years old or less) or, more commonly, after the age of 40.

This evaluation aims mostly to implement Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases, targeting persons with no symptoms or expressions of CVD.

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