According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) represent the main cause of death in the world. In Spain, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), CVDs cause about 120,000 deaths per year and, in percentage terms, mortality from cardiovascular diseases is higher in women (53%) than in men (47% ). During the year 2022, these pathologies accounted for 26.4% of all deaths.

Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease (CVA) or atherosclerosis is one of the main triggers of coronary diseases. It is produced by the thickening and hardening of the arteries when an atheroma plaque forms (accumulation of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances present in the blood). It is a chronic, generalized and progressive disease. Over time, plaque narrows and clogs arteries, preventing oxygenated blood from flowing to organs and tissues. This situation triggers a cardiovascular event: a heart attack, angina pectoris or a stroke, among others.

Despite being a serious pathology, 81.4% of Spaniards confess that they do not know what SVA is and more than 50% would not know how to identify its symptoms. The data come from a survey carried out by the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC), the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC), the Spanish Arteriosclerosis Society (SEA) and the Cardioalianza Association on the occasion of the European Day for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Risk . The study is part of the campaign We make our way on EVA, Developed in collaboration with Daiichi-Sankyo.

‘We made our way on EVA’

Health care, prevention and early diagnosis of diseases are a fundamental weapon in the fight against coronary pathologies. We make our way on EVA He wants to make society aware of these issues. Information on major cardiovascular risk factors can be found on their website identifying what cholesterol is bad (LDL) and access tips to control and reduce it. In the same way, and through a practical tool, it is possible to self-examine the knowledge that one has on these topics.

Image from the launch of the ‘Abrimos paso en EVA’ campaign, when cholesterol ‘dropped’ in the streets of central Madrid.

As indicated by Dr. Andrés Íñiguez, president of the Spanish Heart Foundation, cardiovascular diseases cause more than 17.3 million deaths a year worldwide, more than any other form of disease. In Europe they cause more than 4 million deaths per year, 45% of the total. “On average, there is one death from cardiovascular disease every 40 seconds. Cardiovascular disease causes a 10% loss of disability-adjusted years in the global burden of disease. So if we prevented these deaths, we would avoid the negative impact of cardiovascular disease. This can be achieved with prevention, but above all with the promotion of good health habits”, he concludes.

‘Bad’ cholesterol, a cardiovascular risk factor

Cholesterol is one of the main cardiovascular risk factors. bad, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet. The fundamental cause that leads to the formation of atheromatous plaque and hardening of the arteries is the record of high levels of LDL, although this situation may be linked to a genetic origin (familial hypercholesterolemia (FH)).

One death from cardiovascular disease occurs every 40 seconds. It would be possible to halt this trend with prevention, but above all with the promotion of good health habits.

Andrés Íñiguez, President of the Spanish Heart Foundation

Knowing the risks of having high cholesterol is essential to fight it. The research carried out by SEC, FEC, SEA and Cardioalianza presents conflicting data. While 98% of respondents believe that cholesterol affects cardiovascular health, only 42% believe that it is the main trigger of a coronary event.

Despite these percentages, only 11.6% were more concerned about cholesterol than other conditions. 54.2% admit to having annual exams for control and 27% are waiting for the doctor’s prescription. In fact, 37% do not know what their cholesterol levels are and 50.9% admit not to differentiate between cholesterol Good It is bad.

Protect coronary patients

One of the main challenges for health specialists is to prevent cardiovascular disease in people at high or very high risk of suffering from it. It is the way to reduce morbidity and mortality numbers. Those who have already suffered a first cardiovascular accident (infarction, for example) are classified as having VAS in the approach of cardiologists.

Knowing the symptoms associated with VAS is crucial. Among the signs that indicate this pathology are oppressive chest pains, difficulty breathing or the appearance of neurological deficits, informs the SEC.

For Dr. Luis Rodríguez Padial, president-elect of the SEC, is “fundamental that the population is informed about the causes that aggravate them, especially in patients who have already been diagnosed. We cannot forget that the impact of adequate prevention on a personal and social level is enormous”.

preventive measures

If a patient has atherosclerotic vascular disease, he may or may not already have had a vascular complication. So says Dr. José María Mostaza Prieto, president of the Spanish Society of Arteriosclerosis (SEA): “The challenge is to avoid the first vascular complication or, in case you have already suffered one, new complications”, he comments. As guidelines, the specialist advises “getting closer to the ideal weight, following a Mediterranean-type diet, practicing frequent physical exercise, avoiding tobacco consumption and, of course, controlling cholesterol levels, which is an important risk factor”.

The challenge is to avoid the first vascular complication or, if you have already suffered, new complications.

José María Mostaza Prieto, President of the Spanish Arteriosclerosis Society

Undoubtedly, suffering a cardiovascular event makes patients much more aware of the importance of prevention. “We know that right after the event, in the hospitalization phase, is when they are most vulnerable”, explains Maite San Saturnino, from the Cardioalianza patient association, “and, in turn, these patients are more likely to retain information about the guidelines who should take care of themselves after discharge. We cannot forget that a well-informed patient is a patient with better health”, he concludes.

We make our way on EVA It aims precisely at raising awareness and informing the population about the importance of prevention and early diagnosis of the disease. Inmaculada Gil, CEO of Daiichi-Sankyo, explains the support for the campaign: “For us, as a leading company in the cardiovascular field, the support for this initiative by scientific societies and patient associations, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of controlling cholesterol to prevent cardiovascular disease demonstrates our commitment to helping stroke patients.”