According to the American Heart Association, someone in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease (CVD) every 36 seconds, the equivalent of approximately 2,380 deaths per day.
Every day in the United States there are 405 deaths from stroke, averaging one death every 3:33. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) 2021 statistics of heart disease and stroke, more people die from CVD annually than from any other cause, including cancer, COPD, diabetes, lung infections, and flu.
Consider These Steps On #RethinkCVRisk To Change The Course Of Your Disease And Change Your Life.
Understand your risk
COVID-19 has shown that people with underlying CVD are at particularly high risk of serious COVID-19-related illnesses or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whether or not you got your COVID-19 vaccination, now is a good time to discuss your risk for heart disease with your doctor.
Like cardiovascular disease
Risk factors for CVD include high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Other factors that contribute to risk include family history, previous cardiovascular events (CV), smoking, being overweight or obese, and unhealthy eating and exercise habits. Over time, these risk factors can damage the blood vessel lining and cause inflammation, which can then trigger plaque growth. Plaque grows at different rates for everyone, in different arteries in the body, and is often a slow, gradual process with no symptoms.
As plaque builds up, the risk of suffering from a CV event such as a heart attack or stroke increases. When plaque ruptures, the body tries to repair the injury, potentially creating a blockage. When an artery becomes completely blocked, blood flow is restricted. Blocked blood flow to the heart causes a heart attack, while blocked blood flow to the brain causes a stroke.
Manage risk factors
The most effective way to prevent CVD is to understand and address risk factors. Triglycerides play an important role in heart health. Triglycerides store unexpended calories to provide energy to your body and are the most common type of fat in the body. They come from foods you eat, such as butter, oils, and other fats, as well as carbohydrates, sugar, and alcohol. Your diet, sedentary lifestyle, medical conditions, certain medications, and genetics can all cause high triglycerides.
In the past, triglyceride lowering drugs such as fenofibrate and niacin were often prescribed to manage CV risk along with statins. Clinical studies have shown no benefits, however, and both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and American Diabetes Association advise against combining niacin and fenofibrate with statins.
Some turn to fish oil with supplements to help manage CV risk. However, dietary supplements only contain 30% of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), with the majority of the product being made up of non-omega-3 ingredients, including saturated fats. Some data suggests that certain ingredients in fish oils taken with supplements like DHA and saturated fats can increase bad cholesterol.
While high triglycerides are an indicator of CV risk, lowering them doesn’t necessarily reduce your risk. However, according to the AHA, addressing the underlying causes of high triglycerides can be helpful.
With ongoing research, new standards of care emerge. High cholesterol is an important CV risk factor. Statins are currently the first-line therapy for lowering cholesterol levels. Statins, diet, and exercise can lower your CV risk by around 25% to 35%, but for many people, controlled cholesterol does not eliminate CV risk. This residual risk or “persistent CV risk” endangers millions of patients and has been the focus of therapeutic development for many years.
Talk to your doctor about FDA-approved options that can further lower your heart risk if you’re already taking statins.
You can find more information about CVD and your options on social media at #RethinkCVRisk or at truetoyourheart.com.
Truths and falsehoods about the risk of heart disease
1. Statins reduce your chance of experiencing a CV event by up to 90%.
Not correct. Statins, diet, and exercise can lower your risk by about 25% to 35%, but for many patients, controlled cholesterol does not eliminate the risk of CV. This residual risk or “persistent CV risk” endangers millions of patients and has been the focus of therapeutic development for many years.
2. Dealing with high triglycerides along with taking statins is enough to reduce your risk.
Not correct. High triglycerides are a risk factor for CV, but lowering them doesn’t necessarily reduce your risk. For example, earlier generation drugs prescribed to lower triglycerides, such as fenofibrate and niacin, showed no clinical benefit when used with statins to reduce the risk of CV. In fact, the FDA has revoked fenofibrate and niacin in combination with statins because they pose a potential risk with no proven heart health benefit.
3. Fish oil supplements are a proven way to get protection from a CV event.
Not correct. Fish oil supplements are not FDA approved drugs to treat or prevent any disease. Despite multiple clinical studies, these products have not been shown to reduce the risk of CV on top of current medical therapies, including statins.
4. If you have an initial CV event like a heart attack or stroke, you are at higher risk of having another one.
True. If you have one CV event, the more likely you will suffer another. This is why it is important to protect yourself from a first resume event or future events. To closely monitor your heart health, stay in close contact with your doctor and reduce your risk by keeping up with your medications, exercising, and eating healthy.