Factors that Affect Cardiovascular Health: A Review
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Cardiovascular disease is a major public health problem in terms of both high morbidity and mortality rates and large economic costs. Cardiovascular health and risk of disease are determined by a wide range of genetic and environmental factors. This review focuses on the extent to which heredity, physical activity, diet, and psychological factors (including stress) are known to contribute to cardiovascular health or disease. A predisposition for cardiovascular disease can be inherited, but genetic counselling allows the identification of those who are most at risk and an individualised plan to include appropriate lifestyle changes can then be formulated. It is well established that increasing amounts of physical activity can enhance cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of disease, but knowledge of specific aspects of exercise (such as optimal intensity and mode) is limited. Dietary interventions show that reductions in low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), and increases in high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) and certain antioxidants and vitamins may reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors. The long-term effects of dietary salt are more controversial. Psychological factors are contributory, rather than major, determinants of cardiovascular health, but there is evidence that lack of social support, stress and other negative states can increase the risk of disease.
Buckingham, S. (2008) 'Factors that Affect Cardiovascular Health: A Review', The Plymouth Student Scientist, 1(1), p. 331-344