The purpose of the high-risk approach is to prevent morbidity, early mortality and improve general of quality of life due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) in individuals with an elevated total CVD risk. Total CVD risk is defined as the probability of a cardiovascular event (e.g. stroke or myocardial infarction) occurring within a given time period. It is determined by the risk factor profile, which is dependent on combined risk factors, as well as sex and age. An individual with several mildly elevated levels may have a higher total CVD risk than of an individual with one elevated risk factor. The intensity of the prevention strategy should be guided by level of total risk. Lifestyle interventions addressing diet, exercise, smoking habits and, when needed, drug treatment will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Atherosclerosis, the process of plaque building up in the arteries, is the main pathological process contributing to cardiovascular diseases. The process begins early in life, but the rate in which it progresses and potentially leads to CVD is influenced by several factors including:
- Tobacco use
- Unhealthy diet and physical inactivity leading to obesity
- Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)
- Abnormal blood lipids (dyslipidemia)
- Elevated blood glucose (diabetes)
How to Determine Risk?
The WHO/ISH Risk Prediction Charts predict the 10 year risk of a fatal or non-fatal cardiovascular event occurring. The charts allow for risk stratification specific to each region by incorporating the factors listed above.
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