Chapter 4 Cardiovascular disease Chapter overview

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Chapter 4 Cardiovascular disease

Chapter overview

  • Introduction
  • What is CVD?
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Epidemiology of physical activity/fitness and CHD
  • Changes in physical activity/fitness and CHD
  • Dose–response
  • Are inactivity and low fitness causal factors?
  • Stroke
  • Risk factors for CVD and influence of exercise on these
  • Combined healthy lifestyle behaviours and CVD risk
  • Exercise as therapy in CVD
  • Summary

Cardiovascular diseases

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure);
  • coronary heart disease (CHD);
  • cerebrovascular disease (stroke);
  • peripheral vascular disease;
  • heart failure;
  • rheumatic heart disease;
  • cardiomyopathies (structural abnormalites).

Deaths due to CVD in men and women in the UK and in Europe

Age-standardized CHD death rates for selected countries in 2000

Environmental factors are important in the aetiology of CHD

  • CHD death rates vary widely in different countries.
  • Rates show strong, temporal changes, e.g. between 1990 and 2000:
    • there was a 40% decrease in UK, Australia and Norway;
    • but
    • a 40% increase in Belarus; and
    • a 60% increase in the Ukraine.

Early events of atherosclerosis within the intima

Narrowing of a coronary artery by a large plaque of atheroma

Natural history of atherosclerosis: from fatty streak to clinical ‘horizon’

Mortality from CHD in San Francisco dockworkers

Rates of first heart attack in Harvard Alumni, according to current physical activity and participation as student

Only current physical activity is protective – sports participation in youth does not confer protection in middle-age unless activity is maintained

CHD rates in civil servants: effect of exercise holds across confounding factors

  • Source: Morris et al. (1990).
  • Note: Groups indicate level of vigorous exercise: 1, highest, 4 lowest

Relative risk for CHD in men: evidence for dose–response

  • Source: Health Professionals Follow-up Study (2002).

Changes in activity or fitness are associated with changes in risk

  • Cohort studies have reported assessments of physical activity or fitness made several years apart.
  • Harvard Alumni who were sedentary on first observation but became physically active had a lower risk than those who remained sedentary.
  • In the Aerobics Center Study, men who were unfit on first assessment but had improved their fitness five years later experienced a much lower CVD risk than those who remained unfit.

The relationship between physical activity/fitness and risk for CHD is:

  • consistently reported and inverse;
  • strong (relative risk similar to that associated with smoking, high cholesterol and hypertension);
  • independent of known confounders;
  • graded, i.e. a dose–response has been demonstrated;
  • evident in both men and women;
  • seen in racially diverse groups.

Relative risk of stroke in women, adjusted for multiple confounders

Major risk factors for CVD

  • Modifiable risk factors
  • Dyslipidaemia: elevated total cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, depressed high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, elevated triglyceride concentrations
  • Hypertension
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Obesity (particularly central/abdominal obesity)
  • Hyperglycaemia or diabetes
  • Non-modifiable risk factors
  • Family history: risk is increased in first degree relatives (parents, siblings and offspring) of people with premature atherosclerotic disease (men < 55 years and women < 65 years)
  • Age: higher risk in older individuals
  • Gender: higher risk in males than females
  • Ethnic background: higher risk in South Asians although this may be due to the higher prevalence of diabetes in this group

Prevalence of major risk factors in Great Britain/England

Composition of the four major lipoprotein classes

Plasma HDL-cholesterol in groups differing in level of habitual activity

Effect of training on narrowing of coronary arteries in monkeys consuming an atherogenic diet

Diameter of coronary arteries of prolific marathoner were two to three times normal: note large lumens

Blood pressures in English people, compared with Bushmen

Short-term exercise training attenuated abnormal vasoconstriction of coronary arteries in CAD patients

Relative risk and PAR for CHD in women, according to number of low-risk factors exhibited

Blood pressure classification for adults

  • Blood pressure category
  • Systolic blood pressure (mm Hg)
  • Diastolic blood pressure (mm Hg)
  • Optimal
  • Normal
  • High normal
  • Stage 1 hypertension
  • Stage 2 hypertension
  • Stage 3 hypertension
  • < 120
  • 120–129
  • 130–139
  • 140–159
  • 160–179
  • ≥ 180
  • and
  • and
  • or
  • or
  • or
  • or
  • < 80
  • 80–84
  • 85–89
  • 90–99
  • 100–109
  • ≥ 110

Effect of exercise (three or seven sessions/ week) on blood pressure in hypertensives

Summary I

  • Cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of mortality and morbidity in developed countries, and their prevalence is increasing in developing countries.
  • Atherosclerosis is the major cause of CVD. It has a long clinical history and may be well-progressed before symptoms occur.
  • Inactivity and low fitness are strong risk factors for CHD. Both confer an increase in risk similar to that associated with smoking, hypertension and high blood cholesterol.

Summary II

  • Being physically active or fit may reduce the risk of having a stroke.
  • Mechanisms by which physical activity may modify CVD risk include effects on lipoprotein metabolism, blood pressure and endothelial function.
  • Physical activity is a central component of cardiac rehabilitation. Exercise training may enhance myocardial perfusion and hence oxygen delivery to the heart.
  • Exercise reduces symptoms of claudication and heart failure and may help to lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.

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