The Human Time Bomb – Heart Diseases

Top 10 Causes of Death

In 2011, the World Health Organisation has concluded that there is an estimated 55 million people who died worldwide. Diagram below shows the world’s top 10 causes of death in 2011.

Top 10 Causes of Death
Source: World Health Organisation (WHO)

Despite car accidents being prevalent, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the first two leading causes of death, which comprise of ischemic heart disease (IHD or heart attack) and stroke. In 2011 alone, this ‘silent killer’, CVD has killed 17 million people, and 3 out of every 10 deaths are caused by CVD.

It is more than double of people has been killed by the Roman Empire during its most prototypical fascist state of history that lasted for 1000 years. And perhaps, while completing this sentence, another 3 people have already fallen victim to heart attack.

How cholesterol kills?

Cholesterol (or commonly said plaque) builds up quietly over a period of years in our blood vessels until it reaches an advanced stage. As a result of the asymptomatic (lack of symptoms) progression of the disease, acute coronary and cerebrovascular events such as heart attack and stroke often occur suddenly and result in fatalities due to the blockage of blood vessels.

Blockage of blood vessels

CVD is like a human time bomb, it can happen from age of as young as 13 years old.

How can we survive and prevent this human time bomb?

In a previous Ask the Expert article, Dr. TK Ho, a vascular/endovascular surgeon has briefly described and elaborated on a few ways to reduce the risk associated with CVD as follows:

  • Exercise more
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Don’t smoke
  • Control your other risk factors (blood pressure, diabetes etc.)

Extension from above, there are 9 risk factors that accounts for most of the risks for CVD, an INTERHEART global case study concluded. They are:

  1. Abdominal obesity*
  2. Consumption of fruits, vegetables
  3. Alcohol
  4. Regular physical activity
  5. Smoking
  6. Abnormal lipids
  7. Hypertension
  8. Diabetes
  9. Psychosocial factors
*Abdominal obesity predicts CVD risk more accurately than simply measuring the widely recognized indicator, body mass index (BMI). Current guidelines recommend measuring waist circumference in combination with weight or BMI.

Among the nine risk parameters, the first five are modifiable risk factors, and they can actually be prevented through lifestyle intervention!

It is estimated that 80% of premature heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancer could be prevented through interventions that lead to healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoidance of tobacco products.

Prevention is better than cure, this instinctive concept has long been ingrained in our mind. Appropriate lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on our health. In the coming articles, I will further explain on how to tailor a suitable lifestyle intervention as well as how to set realistic goals on each modifiable risk factor.

How do you take care of your heart? Share with us in the comments below!

Rachel Gan PharmacistRachel Gan is a registered pharmacist with over five years of experience in both community and hospital settings in the UK and Malaysia. Trained as a pharmacist in the UK, she strongly believes in the importance of patient education and counselling. She believes if patients are well-informed and understand their health conditions, the results of therapy will be greatly enhanced. 
She is the proprietor of ALIVE PHARMACY in Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam. To learn more, check out ALIVE PHARMACY’s website and Facebook page
Edited by: The HealthWorks Team
Written by: Rachel Gan MPharm (UK), RPH, MMPS, Clinical pharmacist, proprietor of Alive Pharmacy Sdn Bhd

2 thoughts on “The Human Time Bomb – Heart Diseases”

  1. For more then 60 years, this misleading flawed hypothesis have made pharmaceutical companies filthy rich, while creating the cholesterol phobia amongst the public and making statins as best selling drug in history of mankind.

    It all started with Ancel Keys, his biased hand- picked 7 countries study which started this while absurb hypothesis. This study was debunked countless times by clinical nutritionists, naturopathic doctors, PhD health professionals and even scientists. AWARD winning science journalist Gary Taubes has brilliantly layout medical journals and statistics showing the correlation between saturated fats, total cholesterol serum levels and rates of heart disease.

    The huge long study from British Medical Journal entitled ‘Saturated Fat Is Not The Issue’ has completely debunked the saturated fats raises cholesterol level n cause heart disease. An awesome documentary “29 billion reasons to lie about cholesterol” by Justin Smith interviewing tons of health professionals, nutritionists and doctors debunking this while insane hypothesis. Another documentary called “The Perfect Human Diet” sums it up.

    Our ancestors and primitive populations have been eating high cholesterol and saturated fats diet for thousands of years, all the way back to caveman era. Eskimos diet consists of almost 90% fats and cholesterol levels of up to 6 to 8 times what we are eating now. The Messiah tribes are eating high fat high cholesterol diet for as long as one can remember. The question one should ask is ‘why heart disease is virtually non existent to all these healthy primitive populations for countless generations?

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