Cardiovascular disease refers to a number of diseases that affect the heart itself and/or the blood vessel system. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death in Turkey and globally. More than 157.000 deaths were attributed to CVDs in Turkey in 2015.1 The risk of CVDs begins early in life: it may even start before birth during foetal development, and progress further during childhood. Certain factors play an important role in a person’s chances of developing CVDs and especially heart disease. These factors are called risk factors. Some risk factors can be changed, treated, or modified, and some cannot. Controlling as many as possible risk factors, starting in childhood, will help reduce your children’s risk of developing heart disease as an adult.


Cardiovascular disease refers to a number of diseases that affect the heart itself and/or the blood vessel system. A cardiovascular disease can occur when fatty material builds up in your arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood and nutrients to your organs). This process is called atherosclerosis. It can start when you are young and be well advanced by the time you reach middle age.


Each time the heart beats, the blood is pumped through the vessels (arteries) to all parts of the body. If the blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs damaging them.


A common condition in which the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood becomes higher than normal. The hormone insulin is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood. Diabetes happens when the body doesn't use or produce insulin properly. This damages the arteries and puts the heart health at risk.


When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the walls of the arteries, causing a process called atherosclerosis. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance and it travels in the blood in two forms: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good" cholesterol). LDL is the main source of artery-clogging plaque. HDL actually works to clear cholesterol from the blood. Too much LDL cholesterol and too low HDL cholesterol in the body are risk factors for heart disease or stroke.


Smoking causes breathing problems and lung cancer but also affects the heart and blood vessels. Indeed, smoking affects the vessels that supply blood to your heart, brain and other parts of your body. It reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages blood vessel walls. Smoking also can trigger an irregular heart rhythm and raise blood pressure, which are leading causes of stroke. Cigarette smoke is also bad for the people around smokers. People who inhale smoke (second-hand smoke or passive smoke) from others are at increased risk of disease and it is especially risky for children and babies. Do not forget that smoke can be found in hair, dresses and suits, tapestry and many other places in the house. E-cigarettes, the battery-powered vaporiser that simulates the feeling of smoking, but does not burn tobacco, are not harmless and pending more evidence, it is desirable to limit use and uptake, in particular among children and young people.


Being overweight or obese means having too much body fat. Excess body fat hurts the heart and causes an increase in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the risk of developing diabetes. For some people, the cause of obesity is quite simple: they are eating more calories than they are burning during exercise and daily life. Other causes of obesity may include genetics, aging, gender, lifestyle, and illness. Therefore, body weight can have a large impact on long-term health.


Being physically inactive can increase the chances of developing heart disease. Physical inactivity also increases the risk of developing other heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. It is important to know the factors that you cannot change and act on those that you can modify. Make healthy choices every day.