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Exp Clin Cardiol. 2005 Winter;10(4):229-49.

Prevention of cardiovascular diseases: Role of exercise, dietary interventions, obesity and smoking cessation.

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Bureau of Metabolism, Oncology and Reproductive Sciences, Therapeutic Products Directorate, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.


Hypertension, myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, arrhythmias and valvular heart disease, coagulopathies and stroke, collectively known as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), contribute greatly to the mortality, morbidity and economic burden of illness in Canada and in other countries. It has been estimated that over four million Canadians have high blood pressure, a comorbid condition that doubles or triples the risk of CVD. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, CVDs caused 36% of deaths in 2001 and were responsible for 18% of the total hospital costs in Canada. The majority of Canadians exhibit at least one CVD-related risk factor, such as tobacco smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, a lack of daily fruit and vegetable consumption, and psychosocial factors, making these people more prone to developing a serious CVD-related illness in the future. It is therefore important that CVD-related causes and concerns be addressed. Given the scope and prevalence of CVDs, it is obvious that a population health approach - 'prevention is better than cure' - would be the most appropriate model to adopt to deal with this ubiquitous health problem and to reduce the costs of hospitalization, long-term medication and rehabilitation. The focus of the present review is to evaluate and compare the results of epidemiological, experimental and clinical studies, reporting on the influence of physical activity, dietary intervention, obesity and cigarette smoking on cardiovascular health and the prevention of CVDs. The prophylactic measures must be dealt with collectively because there is overwhelming evidence that the occurrence of CVDs can be reduced by approximately 80% by making lifestyle modifications. The preventive strategies against CVDs must be targeted at a primary health promotion level before some of the important underlying causes of CVD seriously afflict a person or a population at large. Such preventive approaches would help in reducing not only employee absenteeism but also the hospital and drug costs burdening the health care systems of both developed and developing countries.


Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes; Diet; Exercise; Obesity; Smoking cessation


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