Cardiovascular prevention, the new European Society Cardiology guidelines

Cardiovascular prevention is a tool to protect health, useful for everyone and at all ages. it is essential for doctors to use this tool with conviction, trying to involve patients and without underestimating the importance of prevention, even for people over 70. This is the basic message contained in the new guidelines on cardiovascular prevention published in the European Heart Journal and presented at the congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC 2021).

According to the experts who developed the document, cardiovascular prevention cannot be limited to subjects considered at risk, but must be applied to the general population. The aging of the population and the increase in life expectancy make it necessary to consider prevention even in the older age groups.

The ESC document seeks to go beyond theoretical models to provide tools that are practicable in people’s daily life. In this direction it is important to involve patients that the doctor can achieve with a gradual and realistic approach. One should start with one-size-fits-all recommendations, such as quitting smoking and keeping blood pressure levels below risk thresholds. Further recommendations should then be adapted according to the individual patient’s CV risk. In any case, the prevention strategy must be shared with the patient, taking into account his preferences and her living conditions.

Sport and a healthy diet are the cornerstones

Exercise and a healthy diet are confirmed as the cornerstones of cardiovascular prevention. Adults of all ages should engage in at least 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity. The new guidelines add that a reduction in sedentary time, with light activities during the day, is also important.

As far as nutrition is concerned, the importance of consuming above all plant-based foods is confirmed, including whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts. The new recommendations include the adoption of a Mediterranean or similar diet; limit alcohol intake to a maximum of 100 g per week; eat fish, preferably fatty, at least once a week; and limiting the consumption of meat, especially processed meat.

Psychological well-being and heart disease

Another new element of these CV prevention guidelines concerns the relationship between psychological well-being and heart health. The document highlights that mood disorders such as anxiety are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a worse prognosis for those with already diagnosed heart disease. The recommendation is to provide greater support to patients with these conditions, to improve adherence to lifestyle changes and drug treatment.

The importance of walking for old people

Adults aged 85 years or older logged an hour or more walking each week had reduced risk of all cause mortality and cardiovascular risk in particular compared with less active peers according to recent data so promoting walking may be a simple way to help older adults to avoid inactivity and reduce all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk.

For a full consultation on your cardiovascular condition, contact Dr. Weber