Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in most countries in the world, especially in the United States. It is also projected that in 2020, heart disease and stroke will be the leading cause of death and disability of people around the world.
Contrary to our old belief that cardiovascular disease can only affect the stressed, over-weight, middle-aged men; studies show that it is now prevalent among men, women and children regardless of their age, race and ethnic groups. According to Dr Robert Beaglehole, WHO Director of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion, “Today, men, women and children are at risk and 80% of the burden is in low- and middle-income countries.
Heart disease and stroke not only take lives, but also cause an enormous economic burden.” This only shows that children are now adopting unhealthy lifestyles. Thus, awareness and education are necessary precautions for heart disease and stroke prevention. Educating people about the effect of food and nutrients to the body would greatly help them to live healthy lives. This will also open there mind that achieving good health need not be expensive. They only need to know what nutrients are needed in their body to improve its immunity against diseases and nutrigenomics will help them understand this.
Cardiovascular disease occurs when our cardiovascular system, -heart, arteries, and veins- malfunctions due to genetic and environmental factors. Atherosclerosis, the building up of fatty substance like cholesterol to the arterial wall, is the underlying cause of this disease. Other cardiovascular diseases include aneurysm, angina, stroke, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction or heart attack, and many others. It was discovered that the process of atherosclerosis starts as early as childhood and eventually develop in to a disease as the child matures.
Tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition are the causes of cardiovascular disease. There is substantial evidence that links diet to the development of heart disease. Dr. Richard M. Fleming identified in his book, “The Healthy Heart Program”, several dietary factors that can lower the risk of heart disease such as reducing saturated fat intakes, reducing consumption of sugary and processed foods, reducing homocysteine levels by supplementation with Vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid, higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, and cutting back on foods such as red meat, dairy products, poultry and eggs.
This only proves that nutrition plays a vital role in the prevention of this disease. The application of nutrigenomics in relation to cardiovascular disease is a vital tool in improving the patients’ awareness on how unhealthy foods destroy our body’s natural protection against this heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is treatable and reversible. The therapy for this disease includes alteration in patient’s diet, physical activity, and medical treatments. However, genetic variations produce different responses from patients. This is because each individual has different sensitivity and susceptibility to the disease. Thus, it is important to test the patients to find out their genetic makeup in order to optimize the efficacy of the therapies employed to them.
Researchers and nutrition specialists believe that analyzing the individual nutritional needs and tailoring the food according their genotype will greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorder to people. Studies show the influence of the genetic makeup to the responsiveness or lack of it to dietary factors.
Nutrigenomics aims to develop functional foods that will provide people’s individual nutritional needs by demonstrating how food nutrients affect health and how health foods affect health. Though this field of science is still in its early stages, nutrition specialists have seen its potential for the advancement of health and nutrition technology to combat cardiovascular disease.