Cardiovascular disease (CVD): see symptoms and treatments


What is cardiovascular disease?

The cardiovascular disease (CVD), also called heart disease is a general term which describes a disease of the heart or blood vessels.

There are several types of cardiovascular diseases, ranging from the cause to the degree of aggression. They can be caused by genetic or environmental factors, such as smoking , overweight and excessive alcohol consumption.

It is estimated that this disease is responsible for about 1 in 3 premature deaths in men, and 1 in 5 premature deaths in women. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 17.5 million people die annually from cardiovascular disease. It is the leading cause of death  in the world!

Over ¾ of deaths from cardiovascular disease occur in low- and middle-income countries, and most of them could be prevented by preventing behavioral risk factors, such as tobacco use and obesity .

The same entity says that these numbers could be lower if improvements were made in access to health, especially with regard to the control of blood pressure, cholesterol and other conditions that increase the risk of the disease developing.

The simple practice of 30 minutes of daily physical activity already helps in preventing this problem. However, if it doesn’t come together with healthier habits, it may not be enough.

Find out more about cardiovascular disease and what you can do to prevent it in the following text!

How does the cardiovascular system work?

To understand how cardiovascular diseases work, it is necessary, first of all, to know more about the functioning of the human circulatory system.

Basically composed of the heart and blood vessels, the cardiovascular system is responsible for the circulation of blood, which ensures the transport of nutrients and oxygen to the entire human body.

Understand the function of each of the components of the circulatory system:

Blood vessels

Blood vessels are nothing more than a large network of tubes through which blood circulates. They are distributed throughout the body and are subdivided into 3 types: arteries, veins and capillary vessels.


Arteries are the vessels of the circulatory system through which the blood that flows from the heart to the rest of the body passes. That is, the blood that circulates through the arteries is full of oxygen and nutrients that will be distributed to all other cells in the body.

By transporting the blood that is coming directly from the heart, the musculature of the arteries is quite thick, being formed by a muscular tissue that has the need to be elastic, precisely to withstand blood pressure.

This type of blood vessel branches out through the body and becomes thinner and thinner, from where it branches out even more, forming arterioles , which in turn branch out again, becoming capillaries .

There are also 2 types of artery whose knowledge about it is very important: the aorta  and the pulmonary artery .

The aortic artery is the one that leaves the left heart and carries arterial blood (rich in oxygen) to the rest of the body, while the pulmonary artery leaves the right side of the heart and carries venous blood (rich in carbon dioxide) to the lung, where the gas exchange will take place.


Veins are the blood vessels that carry blood from different parts of the body back to the heart. Because of the lower pressure, its walls and muscles are thinner than those of arteries and, therefore, blood transport ends up being much slower as well.

For this reason, the blood pressure inside the veins is low, which makes it difficult to return to the heart. It is to circumvent this problem that there are a series of valves inside.

Most veins only carry venous blood (rich in carbon dioxide), with the exception of the pulmonary vein , which takes arterial blood (rich in oxygen) from the lungs to the left side of the heart, right after the exchange of gases.

The vena cava , on the other hand, is responsible for bringing the venous blood from the rest of the body towards the heart, from where it will be sent to the lungs and perform gas exchange.

Capillary vessels

Capillary vessels are the branches of arteries and veins. Its walls are too thin to allow the exchange of substances (nutrients and gases) between the blood and the cells.

The heart

The heart is like a bomb. It is a set of muscles that are about the size of a closed fist and are responsible for pumping blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.

In mammals, unlike most animals, the heart is divided into 4 cavities: 2 atria and 2 ventricles. This division into cavities helps to prevent blood rich in oxygen (arterial) from mixing with blood rich in carbon dioxide (venous).

The blood cycle in the heart works as follows:

  1. Blood rich in carbon dioxide enters the left side of the heart through the vena cava;
  2. The heart pumps this blood to the lungs through the pulmonary artery;
  3. In the lung, gas exchange occurs;
  4. The oxygen-enriched blood returns to the heart through the pulmonary vein;
  5. The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body through the aortic artery.


There are several types of cardiovascular disease. Each affects the heart and the circulatory system in a different way. Check out:

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked or interrupted by an accumulation of fatty substances (atheroma) in the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are the two main blood vessels that supply blood to the heart.

If the coronary arteries become narrower due to an accumulation of atheroma, the blood supply to the heart will be decreased, causing angina (chest pain).

If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack.

Peripheral arterial disease

Peripheral arterial disease, also known as peripheral vascular disease, occurs when there is a narrowing in the arteries, preventing blood flow to the limbs, usually the leg.

It is commonly a sign of fat and calcium deposits that accumulate on the walls of the arteries.

The most common symptom of peripheral arterial disease is pain in the legs when walking. This usually occurs on one or both legs, thighs or hips. The pain usually comes and gets worse during exercises that require the legs, such as walking or climbing stairs.

Aortic Diseases

The aorta is the largest blood vessel in our body, being the first vessel to leave the heart and responsible for taking blood to the rest of your body.

The most common type is an aortic aneurysm , which occurs when the wall of this vessel becomes weakened and retracts. When the disease arrives, the patient has pain in the chest , back or abdomen (belly).

Rheumatic heart disease

Also known as rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease, it is characterized by an inflammatory disease triggered by pharyngoamyalitis (inflammation of the pharynx and tonsils) caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes .

It usually occurs in children and adolescents between 5 and 15 years of age.

This disease appears about 3 weeks after the bacterial infection and can affect joints, skin, brain and the heart. Cardiac involvement happens because of the inflammatory process, which affects different parts of the heart.

Congenic cardiopatics

Congenital heart disease is a structural problem of the heart that has been present since birth. The signs and symptoms depend a lot on the specificity of the problem, causing them to vary between harmless symptoms or even problems that put the patient’s life at risk.

It is caused by a congenital heart defect and its cause is often a mystery. Some cases can originate from infections during pregnancy, such as rubella , in addition to the consumption of certain medications or drugs such as alcohol and tobacco.

Cardiac arrhythmia

cardiac arrhythmia occurs when the heart rate of the patient is abnormal and irregular. That is, it either strikes too fast, or too slowly.

This condition occurs when the electrical impulses of the heart do not work correctly, causing rapid beats (tachycardia), slow beats (bradycardia) and even altered.

In most cases, arrhythmias do not generate symptoms, being considered benign and harmless to health. However, in more severe cases, the disease can cause sensations such as fainting and chest pain, in addition to significantly increasing the risks of cardiac arrest and death.

Other types

  • High blood pressure: occurs when the force that the blood exerts on the walls is too great;
  • Heart failure: it is a type of chronic disease that causes the heart not to pump blood as it should;
  • Angina: chest pain.

Cardiovascular diseases in children

Children are affected to a lesser extent by cardiovascular diseases. According to WHO data, the incidence of this type of heart disease varies between 0.8% in developed countries and 1.2% in developing countries.

The number may seem small when viewed as a percentage, but, in order to have an idea of ​​the real size of the problem, using these same statistics as a basis, we can say that about 33 thousand children are born with heart disease in Brazil alone.

Fortunately, most of these diseases can be detected already during the gestational period, through tests such as fetal echocardiography . In some cases the child already needs to be operated on in the first days or months of life.

Here are the 3 most common childhood heart diseases:

Interventricular Communication (IVC)

It is a defect in the inner part of the heart. An opening forms in the wall of the ventricles, causing venous blood (rich in carbon dioxide) to mix with arterial blood (rich in oxygen).

When this opening is too large, the heart may become overloaded and, in more severe cases, the child may develop a heart murmur. Newborns can suffer from shortness of breath and frequently interrupt feedings.

It is based on these symptoms that exams are performed, such as chest x -ray, echocardiogram and catheterization. There are situations where the opening is small, making the surgery unnecessary.

Coarctation of the aorta

It is characterized by the narrowing of the aorta, which makes it difficult to transport blood to the rest of the body. When blood flow is reduced, it is possible that the child will suffer from heart failure in the first days of life.

This disease is diagnosed by assessing changes in the pulse and difference in blood pressure in the lower and upper limbs.

Tetralogia de Fallot

Fallot’s tetralogy is a disease that causes 4 defects that, together, prevent the oxygenation of blood and its distribution to the rest of the body. In this case, interventricular communication, aortic deviation, obstruction of the right ventricle and ventricular hypertrophy occur.

This disease can cause the child to faint and blue the lips and fingertips. In some cases, it is necessary to place a tube between the aorta and the pulmonary artery to improve oxygenation and the transport of blood to the lungs.


There are several reasons for cardiovascular disease to arise. Check out:


Congenital heart disease is a cardiovascular disease of genetic origin. This problem in the structures of the heart occurs in the first eight weeks of pregnancy and is very common in patients with Down syndrome, for example.


One of the biggest causes of cardiovascular disease is smoking. According to data from the European Union, tobacco consumption may be related to 50% of preventable deaths and its practice can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases by up to 40%.

This is because tobacco increases the heart rate, constricts the arteries, causing irregular heartbeats, and raises blood pressure, which increases the chances of stroke.

In addition to the cumulative harmful effects, the risk of smokers suffering a heart attack , for example, is directly proportional to the consumption of tobacco, that is, the risk increases according to the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

Overweight and obesity

Being overweight increases the risk of a stroke or the development of cardiovascular disease.

This is because of high blood sugar levels, which increase blood pressure and can hamper the flow of blood through blood vessels, causing diseases such as coronary artery disease or peripheral arterial disease.

The disease can still be exacerbated by diabetes , with which it is closely related.


Often combined with obesity, diabetes can potentiate the symptoms of cardiovascular diseases. This is because the disease causes hypertension, which increases the chances of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke.

Excessive alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption is also a problem. This is because alcohol is interpreted by the blood as glucose, causing insulin levels in the body to increase and, consequently, blood pressure as well, which can lead to diseases such as heart attack.

Risk factors

There are several risk factors associated with each other for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise. Check out:

High blood pressure (hypertension)

It is by far the most important risk factor for CVD. High and poorly controlled blood pressure can damage the walls of the arteries and increase the risk of developing a blood clot.

The presence of these clots increases the risk of a series of diseases, such as infarction, as it prevents the natural passage of blood through the arteries.


Tobacco toxins can damage and narrow your arteries, making you more vulnerable to coronary heart disease. Nicotine, for example, is a substance that causes changes in blood pressure, which can lead to problems in the future.

In addition, tobacco contributes to hardening of the arteries, promoting atherosclerosis (accumulation of fat and other chemicals that leads to the formation of thrombi).

High blood cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in our blood. There are, in general, 2 types of cholesterol, HDL, also known as “good” cholesterol, as it helps to remove “bad” cholesterol from the artery wall, and LDL, known as “bad” cholesterol, which accumulates inside the arteries and can lead to serious illnesses such as heart attack and stroke.

Familial hypercholesterolemia

Often, high cholesterol levels are not due to the patient’s habits. That’s because our body has a protein called the LDL receptor (LDLR) that is responsible for removing “bad” cholesterol from the artery walls.

This protein is produced in the liver and, if the patient has a mutation in this receptor, he has a genetic disease called Familial Hypercholesterolemia. This generates very high levels of cholesterol in the blood, which, as we have already seen, can lead the patient to develop serious diseases.

Elevated triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia)

In addition to cholesterol, there are still other fats that circulate in our body and that can be harmful to heart health: triglycerides.

The values ​​of this fat in the body vary a lot according to the diet. Very high values ​​usually indicate a diet rich in fats, which can also accumulate on the artery wall.

Typically, people with high triglyceride levels also have low HDL levels, which can be quite harmful, since low HDL levels can also cause cardiovascular disease.

Therefore, a good way to increase HDL values ​​is through regular exercise.


High blood glucose can damage your arteries. Therefore, people with type 1 or 2 diabetes are more at risk of cardiovascular disease, as deficiency in insulin production leads to increased blood sugar levels.

Whether it is type 1, congenital, or acquired type 2 diabetes, it is very important that patients with this type of problem pay close attention to their heart health.

Bad eating habits

A high-fat diet can accelerate the formation of fat deposits within the arteries, raising cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Sedentary lifestyle

People who do not exercise regularly usually have higher levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and stress, and are also more prone to being overweight.

Overweight or obesity

Overweight and obesity increase the risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure. People with these conditions often have poor diets and do not exercise regularly.

Excessive alcohol consumption

In addition to causing liver disease, such as cirrhosis , alcohol harms other organs, such as the heart, brain and testicles, weakening the arteries and damaging (or even killing) the cells.


Stress can increase blood pressure, and stress- associated hormones can also increase your blood glucose levels.

Gingivitis and other oral problems

Periodontitis , gingivitis , cavities and other oral problems can trigger heart problems, as the microorganisms lodged in the oral mucosa can deepen and reach blood vessels, causing infections in the tissues of the heart.

Therefore, maintaining a good oral hygiene, in addition to making the smile more beautiful and the breath more delicious, also helps to maintain the health of the heart.

Age and gender

Two non-modifiable risk factors, that is, that do not depend on the patient, are age and sex. Being male is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases, which worsens as age increases.

Women, until the time of menopause , are more protected from this disease, because the female hormones act defending them from this type of problem.

However, even before menopause, women should be concerned with the health of the circulatory system, always paying attention to cholesterol levels and other cardiovascular risk factors.


As the variety of heart diseases is very large, we provide a list of the main symptoms that indicate a heart problem. If any of these symptoms are present, it is time to see a doctor.

Arterial hypertension

High blood pressure can increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes, in addition to compromising the functioning of the arteries, causing serious problems to the heart.

When too much blood pressure is exerted on the walls of the blood vessels, the heart works harder and less efficiently.

Persistent cough

It is normal for a cough to occur as a result of a cold , flu or some other respiratory problem. When the cough is persistent and occurs independently of these diseases, it can be a sign of heart problems.

This is because there is often an excess of fluid in the lungs caused by congestive heart failure, which can cause wheezing and coughing, causing the problem to be often mistaken for asthma or another lung disease.

When the heart does not pump blood properly to the rest of the body, pumped liquids return to other unusual places, such as the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, arms and legs.

One of the possible factors behind this type of problem may be heart failure.

Difficulty breathing while sleeping

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that has been linked to a number of problems, such as increased risk of heart attack and cardiac arrhythmia.

The sleep apnea causes the patient to stop breathing for a few moments at night. This interruption in the respiratory flow causes the blood oxygen levels to decrease, which, in turn, is interpreted by the body as a danger signal.

This causes the body to “send” blood vessels to constrict, as this increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to vital regions, such as the brain and the heart itself.

The increase in blood flow through the contraction of blood vessels increases blood pressure, leaving the patient more susceptible to cardiovascular problems.

Lack of air

Climbing stairs or running short distances and experiencing sudden shortness of breath is an indication of cardiovascular disease.

Chest pain and palpitations

Chest pain is the most common symptom related to heart problems. This correlation is correct, as many fatal heart diseases have had this symptom from the beginning.

This pain, however, can spread to different parts of the body, such as shoulders, arms, elbows, back, neck, jaw or abdomen.

When the heartbeat appears to be irregular, there is a possibility that cardiovascular problems, such as cardiac arrhythmia, are happening. A very weak, strong or irregular heartbeat can also be a sign of heart disease.

Nausea and lack of appetite

Many people experience nausea and vomit in the moments leading up to a heart attack. In addition, symptoms such as abdominal bloating are related to heart failure, which can interfere with appetite.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms that may be indicative of problems in the cardiovascular system are:

  • Tachycardia;
  • Angina (chest pain);
  • Indigestion;
  • Nausea;
  • Intense sweating;
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat and back;
  • Fatigue;
  • Fainting;
  • Cold sensation in the legs or arms;
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles and legs;
  • Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection;
  • Bluish color on fingertips or nails;
  • Excessive sweating;
  • Pallor.

How is the diagnosis made?

Preliminarily, that is, before requesting any type of test, the cardiologist  will do a standard physical exam and analyze the history and medical history of the patient’s family members to observe any predisposition to heart disease.

Then, a series of imaging tests and laboratory analyzes can be requested to identify the nature of the problem and, thus, arrive at a more forceful diagnosis. Among them are:

Blood tests

Blood collection for analysis is done to detect several risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as the detection of fats, the measurement of cholesterol and the presence of lipids in the blood, including HDL, LDL and triglycerides.

Sugar and glycated hemoglobin levels are also measured to rule out or confirm the presence of diabetes. There is also the presence of proteins such as CRP (Reactive Protein C) and other markers such as apolipoproteins A1 and B, as abnormal levels may indicate inflammation.

These values ​​are collected because, during a heart attack, the heart muscles die and release a large amount of protein into the bloodstream. Blood tests can measure the amount of these proteins in the blood and prevent a heart attack.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

The electrocardiogram , also known as an ECG, is a simple and painless test that will measure the electrical activity of the heart.

It is done in a very simple way: the patient lies on a stretcher and cleans and degreases the skin on the chest. Then, a series of electrodes are placed in specific locations, such as chest, arms and legs, and the measurement is recorded by the computer within about 5 minutes.

If the patient has a lot of hair in the region, a waxing will be done, and in cases of too much oil on the skin, it will be cleaned with alcohol.

Read more: What is the ECG (Electrocardiogram) exam?

Stress test

In this test, also known as exercise stress test or exercise ECG, an electrocardiogram is performed while the patient performs some type of physical exercise, such as running on the treadmill or cycling the bicycle.

For the exam to be successful, the patient must wear appropriate clothing for physical exercise, do not smoke for at least 2 hours before the exam and must have eaten light on the day of the exam. Women should wear a bra or top.

The exercise starts out slow and easy and gradually intensifies. In case of exhaustion, the patient can stop the exam and its duration does not exceed 20 minutes.

This test allows you to define how the patient’s heart generates stress, in addition to diagnosing coronary heart disease and determining its severity.


This is an ultrasound exam, that is, it uses sound waves to create a real-time image of the heart.

The patient is lying under the left side, with a bare chest – in women, a surgical gown with frontal opening is used. The cardiologist who specializes in echocardiography slides a gel transducer over the patient’s chest to view all parts of the heart.

In some moments, small pressures are made to facilitate the visualization of the organ and its functionalities, always avoiding causing pain or discomfort to the patient.

It is a non-invasive and painless test. It is fast, lasting about 15 minutes and does not require prior preparation. It can be done by adults, children and pregnant women from the 28th week of gestation.

It can be performed in clinics or hospitals, depending on the type of echocardiogram requested and the disease to be investigated. It is necessary to remove all jewelry and objects that may hinder the examination.

In some cases, electrodes are placed on the patient’s chest for the examination to be performed in association with the electrocardiogram. An oximeter can also be used to measure blood oxygenation during the procedure.

Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography

These are semi-invasive methods that allow you to study the heart and the blood vessels that supply the organ (coronary arteries) without having to undergo surgery.

They are usually done when:

  • Noninvasive tests provide insufficient information or when they suggest that there is a problem with the heart or blood vessels;
  • The patient has symptoms that make it very likely that there is a problem with the heart or coronary artery.

One of the advantages of these tests is that, during their performance, doctors can already treat several diseases, including coronary artery disease.

Cardiac catheterization

In this examination, a thin catheter (a small, flexible, hollow plastic tube) is inserted into an artery or vein in the neck, arm or groin by a needle puncture. Local anesthesia is given in the insertion area, and then the catheter is directed through the main blood vessels into the heart chambers.

Through this tube, several instruments can be guided to the heart. They include devices to measure pressure in each chamber of the heart and blood vessels attached to the organ, view or record ultrasound images of the inside of blood vessels, collect blood samples from different parts of the heart, or remove a tissue sample from inside the heart. microscopic examination.

The procedure is performed in the hospital and can last from 40 minutes to 1 hour and is the only way to directly measure blood pressure in each chamber of the heart and in the main blood vessels that branch from the heart to the lungs.

Coronary angiography

Coronary angiography is very similar to catheterization, and it is almost always done simultaneously.

In it, after injecting a local anesthetic, the doctor inserts a thin catheter into an artery through an incision in the arm or groin. This catheter will be directed to the heart and then to the coronary arteries.

After the tip of the catheter has been inserted into the determined location, a radiopaque contrast agent (dye), that is, which can be seen on radiographs, is injected through the catheter into the coronary arteries and their outline can be viewed on a screen. .

Doctors use these images to detect blockages or spasms in the coronary arteries. It is the test that provides information about the coronary arteries that supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood.

Chest X-ray

In medicine, a chest X-ray is commonly called a chest X-ray. This test is used to diagnose diseases that affect the chest and its nearby structures. Through it, it is possible to observe the size and shape of the lungs, the heart and the main blood vessels.

It is used very rarely for the diagnosis of heart disease, as it does not provide information as accurate as an echocardiogram, for example.

Electron beam computed tomography (EBCT)

This test is quick and sensitive to detect the accumulation of calcium in the arteries of the heart. The amount of calcium in the arteries gives the doctor the possibility to diagnose a disease known as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).


Magnetic resonance imaging allows the visualization of organs inside the human body and superficial muscular, ligament and tendon structures.

In it, the patient is exposed to a powerful magnetic field that realigns the water molecules within the body to generate a real-time image of the organ to be analyzed.

What is the treatment?

The best way to treat cardiovascular disease is through prevention. However, after the diagnosis of the disease, there are some things that can be done to improve conditions. Are they:

Behavior changes

Behavior changes are a way not only to prevent the disease, but also to prevent the symptoms caused by it from intensifying. So, if you have already been diagnosed with any type of cardiovascular disease consider:

  • Start a diet with reduced fat and salt;
  • Practice at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily or as often as possible weekly;
  • Stop smoking;
  • Decrease alcohol consumption.

Medication use

Habit changes alone are not enough to improve the quality of life for a person diagnosed with heart disease. Therefore, doctors can prescribe a number of medications as a control measure.

The type of medication will depend on the type of problem in the cardiovascular system.


If medications and life changes are not enough, it is possible that the doctor recommends performing some procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, or surgeries.

The type of procedure to be used will depend on the disease that affects the patient and the size of the damage done to the heart. Among the main procedures are:

Cardiac revascularization surgery

This surgery is done when the arteries can no longer supply enough blood to the heart. The procedure, then, aims to restore blood flow to the heart.

Balloon angioplasty

It is a minimally invasive method that aims to widen the narrow arteries. The surgeon inserts a small balloon into the patient’s artery and inflates it where it is needed to treat problems.

Repair and replacement of the heart valve

This procedure corrects the malfunctioning heart valve. It is a minimally invasive procedure in which the surgeon will change the structures of the heart valves.

Heart transplantation

It is a surgery that replaces one heart with another, coming from an individual who is brain dead and compatible with that of the patient who has cardiovascular problems.

This surgery is only done in cases of serious illnesses that endanger the patient’s life. It is performed in the hospital, requiring hospitalization for 1 month and a series of care after discharge so that organ rejection does not occur.


If you are at a particularly high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, your doctor may prescribe medication to help reduce your risk. Medicines used to prevent cardiovascular disease can include:

  • Blood pressure tablets, such as angiotensin converting enzymes (ACE): used to treat high blood pressure;
  • Statins : used to lower blood cholesterol levels;
  • Low dose of Aspirin : used to prevent blood clots.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Living together

It is quite difficult to live with a diagnosis of any cardiovascular disease, especially since the popular imagination is very pessimistic when we talk about this type of problem.

It is not because you have been diagnosed with a heart condition that your life is ruined. No! It just means that from the moment of diagnosis onwards you will have to take some more care.

See more in the topic “Prevention”. There are tips not only to prevent cardiovascular disease, but also to prevent the progression of symptoms.


Although they look frightening, the prognosis for people with cardiovascular disease is quite positive, especially because of medical advances.

Through changes in lifestyle and monitoring the doctor, it is possible to live a normal life and without major complications.


When not properly treated, cardiovascular disease can have a number of serious consequences. Understand:

Heart failure

One of the most common complications when it comes to cardiovascular disease is heart failure. It happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs.

Heart failure is the result of a wide variety of cardiovascular diseases, including birth defects and infections.

Heart attack

A heart attack happens when the heart stops receiving enough oxygenated blood. This problem occurs due to an obstruction in the coronary vein, which can happen for several reasons, ranging from a blood clot in the region to the formation of fatty plaques.

Due to the lack of oxygen in this region, the heart muscle enters a necrosis process, which can lead to the patient’s death.


A stroke (stroke), or stroke, is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disturbed.

Like all organs, the brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function properly. Such nutrients and oxygen are supplied by the blood, so if your blood flow is restricted or interrupted, your brain cells begin to die. This can lead to irreversible brain damage and possibly death.

Therefore, a stroke is a medical emergency and immediate treatment is essential, it is vital. The sooner a person receives treatment, the less the damage will be.


It is a serious complication that can affect any part of the body. An aneurysm is nothing more than a dilation in the inner wall of the arteries. If an aneurysm bursts, it is possible that the patient faces a very complicated internal hemorrhage with a high risk of death.

Cardiac arrest

Normally, a cardiac arrest is the result of an electrical disturbance in the heart. It is not the same as a heart attack, as it is not caused by a lack of oxygen in the heart muscles.

In fact, it is a sudden and unexpected stop in the function of the heart, breathing and loss of consciousness. It is often caused by cardiac arrhythmia and is considered a medical emergency. If not treated immediately , the disease can be fatal.


Most deaths from cardiovascular disease are premature and could easily be prevented just by making some lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and quitting smoking.

It is estimated that this disease is responsible for about 1 in 3 premature deaths in men and 1 in 5 premature deaths in women.

Most risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) are “connected”, which means that if you have one risk factor, you will likely have others as well.

For example, people who consume a lot of alcohol generally have diets low in nutrients and are more likely to smoke. In addition, obese people are more likely to have diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Focusing on decreasing a risk factor, such as quitting smoking, will certainly bring important health benefits, however , to significantly reduce  the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, you need to make changes to your lifestyle as a whole .

You need to consider:

  • Your diet;
  • Your weight;
  • The amount of alcohol you drink;
  • The amount of exercise and physical activity you do;
  • If you need to stop smoking.

Below is a summary of the factors.

Decrease alcohol

If you drink alcohol, you should not exceed the recommended daily limits of 3-4 servings for men and 2-3 servings for women. A dose of alcohol is roughly equivalent to half a liter of normal beer or a small glass of wine.

You should consult your doctor if you are finding it difficult to moderate your alcohol consumption. Counseling services, such as AA, and medication help to reduce alcohol intake.

Control the diet

For a healthy heart, consider a low-fat, high-fiber diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables (at least five servings a day). Your diet should include no more than 6g of salt per day, as it tends to increase your blood pressure.

It is also a good idea to limit the amount of salty foods you eat, such as ready meals, canned or processed foods, as these foods have a lot of sodium.

Do not eat foods high in saturated fat, as this will increase your cholesterol level. Some examples of foods high in saturated fat:

  • Fatty meats and sausages;
  • Butter;
  • Lard;
  • Creme;
  • Cheese;
  • Cakes and cookies;
  • Foods that contain coconut or palm oil.

Eating some foods high in unsaturated fat can help lower your cholesterol level, these foods include:

  • Oily fish;
  • Avocados;
  • Nuts and seeds;
  • Sunflower oil;
  • Rapeseed (nabiça-brood);
  • Oil.

Exercise and control your weight

If you are overweight or obese, the best thing for you to lose excess weight is the practice of regular exercise and a controlled calorie diet. The recommendation for adults is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every day for at least five days a week.

If you find it difficult to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, start at a level that you feel most comfortable with.

For example, by doing 5 to 10 minutes of light exercise a day and gradually increasing the duration, as well as the intensity of your activity, you will notice how your fitness level improves.

Reduce blood sugar levels

Most of the food we eat turns to glucose, which our bodies use later on for energy. However, high blood glucose levels can be triggers for the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

So, in order to reduce blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes, one must decrease the consumption of simple sugars, which exist in soft drinks, sweets and desserts, in addition to exercising regularly.

If you already have diabetes, strictly follow the recommended diet and take the medication prescribed by your doctor every day.

Decrease stress levels

Daily stress causes anxiety and emotional tensions that can lead a patient to adopt unhealthy habits, such as smoking, eating poorly or being sedentary. These habits, in turn, are major risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases.

A wide range of studies show that acute stress causes a reduction in blood flow to the heart and an increase in arrhythmias. So, look for activities that help lower stress levels, such as meditation and physical exercise.

Walking, swimming, playing sports are a good way to combat the stress caused by everyday life.

It looks like smoking

If you smoke, it is highly recommended that you stop as soon as possible. That’s because smoking increases the risk of a heart attack by up to 30%. Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemical substances, and at least 60 of them are known to be carcinogenic.

There are a few tips to help you stop smoking. Check out:

  • Aim to quit smoking, and not just reduce the number of cigarettes smoked per day;
  • Avoid everything that can make you want to smoke, such as coffee and alcoholic beverages;
  • After meals, get up and leave the table immediately;
  • Brush your teeth after each meal;
  • Eliminate objects that may resemble cigarettes, such as lighters, ashtrays, etc;
  • Take care not to put on weight. If you have to drink or eat something, give preference to fruits, water, sugar-free drinks or use diet chewing gum;
  • Drink plenty of water each time you feel like smoking;
  • Exercise, such as walking, swimming, weight training, etc.

It is very important to stop smoking as soon as possible. The average smoker lives 13 years less than a non-smoker. For women, that number is 15 years less.

But always remember that relapse is not a failure. Be strong-willed and start again, trying to be more aware of the triggers that lead you to smoke.

Cardiovascular diseases are serious problems and must be closely monitored by doctors and other health professionals. Despite requiring changes in lifestyle, cardiovascular diseases can be controlled and their patients have the possibility of having a good quality of life.

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