Cardiovascular Disease

Heart

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. It's usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of blood clots. It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

CVD is one of the main causes of death and disability in Ireland, but it can often largely be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle.

Conditions

Specific conditions include but are not limited to:

*The above four conditions are included in the Chronic Disease Management programme. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is not not included in the Chronic Disease Management programme.

Causes of CVD

The exact cause of CVD isn't clear, but there are lots of things that can increase your risk of getting it. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of developing CVD. If you are concerned about your heart health, make an appointment to see your GP and we can assess your individual CVD risk and advise you how to reduce it if necessary.

Risk factors include:
  • High blood pressure

  • Smoking

  • High cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • Inactivity

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Family history of CVD

  • Ethnic background

  • Other risk factors that affect your risk of developing CVD include:

    • age – CVD is most common in people over 50 and your risk of developing it increases as you get older

    • gender – men are more likely to develop CVD at an earlier age than women

    • diet – an unhealthy diet can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure

    • alcohol – excessive alcohol consumption can also increase your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and contribute to weight gain​

Stroke

A stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly. If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain damage and possibly death.

 

Strokes are a medical emergency and prompt treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.

Types of Stroke

There are two main causes of strokes:

  • ischaemic (accounting for over 80% of all cases): the blood supply is stopped due to a blood clot

  • haemorrhagic: a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts and causes brain damage

 

There is also a related condition known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), where the supply of blood to the brain is temporarily interrupted, causing a 'mini-stroke'. TIAs should be treated seriously as they are often a warning sign that a stroke is coming.

 

Lifestyle Factors

Your risk of having a stroke is increased by certain things in your lifestyle which you can change, and which also increase your chances of having a heart attack. These include: smoking, being overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

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Useful Links

This content of this page (and links to other sites) is for general information purposes only and does not substitute medical advice. While we endeavour to keep this website up-to-date, errors may occur. We advise all patients to discuss their health concerns with their GP. If you would like to suggest amendments or highlight new information that could be useful to others please don’t hesitate to get in touch.