Avoid the risks of heart disease and vascular disease

The risks that lead to cardiovascular disease are well known. But it is also possible to classify those risks based on severity. Although the order of severity will not be the same for everyone, it is still possible to make a general classification from high to low risk. In Western society, heart problems are among the top causes of death. Approximately 40,000 people die in the Netherlands every year from the consequences of cardiovascular disease. The share of cardiovascular disease in total mortality is therefore approximately 30%. The risk factors are known, so we also know what to do to keep them limited.

Heart and vascular disease

The main risks that can lead to cardiovascular disease are actually known to almost everyone, but when it comes to the order of severity it is not really clear. The question is whether you can give an order that is general and applies to everyone. Nevertheless, you could cautiously give the following list from highest to lowest, with smoking being estimated as the highest risk:


Smoking is not only harmful to the lungs, but also leads to cardiovascular disease. An inner wall of a blood vessel is normally lined with endothelium. These are in fact all small scales that are in a smooth state. But smoking causes irregularities in the vein wall. The heart consists of the same material. Smoking creates small openings through which cholesterol can pass. This accumulates, causing the vein to become hard, calcified and narrowed on the inside. So you get arteriosclerosis, arteriosclerosis and also the risk of infarctions. So quit smoking.

Lack of exercise

The threat that comes second in severity. Exercising five times a week to increase your heart rate and make you sweat is the standard for a healthy amount of exercise. So extra outside your normal movement. Good exercise has a positive effect on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Moreover, it makes your heart stronger.


A Body Mass Index (BMI, seevoedingcentrum.nl) that is higher than 25 is considered overweight. This puts you at risk of high blood pressure. And high blood pressure is seen as a silent killer. It is a complaint that you hardly feel, but it can have a devastating effect. If blood pressure is too high, the heart muscle thickens, which hinders the pumping function and the pressure on the artery wall is high. But high blood pressure is actually dangerous for the entire body.

Wrong nutrition

Consuming a lot of alcohol and a lot of fat is harmful. Alcohol consumption increases cholesterol levels, which in turn leads to arteriosclerosis and vasoconstriction. Men who drink no more than two glasses of alcohol and women who drink no more than one glass remain on the safe side. Unsaturated fat is good for the body, but saturated fats are not. Cheese, for example, contains a lot of saturated fat, while many nuts such as almonds and cashews, to name just a few delicacies that you are often treated to at a party, do not.

Differences between men and women

Women have almost no chance of suffering a heart attack before menopause, provided they do not smoke. Yet more women than men die from cardiovascular disease. On average, men develop problems about 15 years earlier than women. But after the age of fifty, women catch up. Smoking is an important factor, because smoking can cause you to enter menopause three years earlier. And especially after menopause, the risk of arteriosclerosis increases due to increasing weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Often in combination with less exercise. This atherosclerosis manifests itself differently in women than in men: men have oppressive pain in the chest and radiation to the arms. Women usually have more vague complaints such as shortness of breath, pain in the jaws, pressure between the shoulders and fatigue. It is therefore more difficult to diagnose women and they are therefore more likely to suffer a silent, unnoticed heart attack. With narrowing of the coronary arteries, men have a clear narrowing in one place, while in women the vessels and capillaries are affected along their entire length. Also an aspect that makes the condition more likely to be overlooked in women.