[LifeStyle] Cardiometabolism: the impact of bad habits on the heart and how to prevent it


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With disorders such as obesity and diabetes on the rise, the concept of cardiometabolism has gained relevance in the medical community as it addresses the need for routine check-ups and a healthy lifestyle. The details in the voice of a professional
El riesgo de enfermedades cardiovasculares tiene un vínculo directo con malos hábitos alimenticios y con el sedentarismo (Getty)

Obesity and diabetes occupy a central place on the agenda of the international medical community, to the point of being considered two great epidemics of the 21st century.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "over the past three decades, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically in countries of all income levels." Likewise, for the organization, "obesity has almost tripled worldwide from 1975 onwards."

As these two metabolic disorders are directly associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, experts warn about the need for routine check-ups and adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes diet and physical activity.

From a better understanding of the relationship between metabolic disorders and the risk of developing cardiovascular pathologies, the concept of cardiometabolism arises. It is a discipline whose development has expanded greatly in the last 5 years. This link has been known for a long time, but advances in knowledge have allowed us to explore new tools for a more comprehensive approach to this problem.

Alimentarse de forma saludable y realizar actividad física son dos hábitos fundamentales para cuidar el corazón (Getty)


Currently, metabolic factors such as excess weight and diabetes are among the most important determinants for the development of cardiovascular diseases. In Argentina, considering the po[CENSORED]tion over 18 years of age, one in 10 people has diabetes and 6 out of 10 have some degree of excess weight.

These are truly alarming figures and they are constantly increasing. To gauge the seriousness of the situation, it must be taken into account that between 40 and 50% of the risk of suffering cardiovascular disease is due to metabolic disorders, according to the results of different epidemiological studies.

How do metabolic pathologies such as diabetes and obesity affect the heart? Mainly, through excess visceral fat (Note: the fat that is located in the abdomen area). Although fatty tissues play an important role in the body, since they are a reservoir of energy, those that are found at the intra-abdominal level, such as those that surround our internal organs, are directly related to various health disorders.

Medir el perímetro de cintura es una de las formas que tienen los expertos para analizar la grasa visceral (Getty)

This happens because excess visceral fat produces a series of substances that favor the development of diabetes (due to the resistance it generates to the action of our insulin), arterial hypertension and a greater risk of lipid disorders and high production of triglycerides. But they also directly damage our arteries and heart muscle.

Various cardiovascular pathologies are associated with these disorders. One of them is vascular disease, such as coronary disease; Here we include the progressive obstruction of the arteries that feed our heart and that lead to the development of the well-known angina pectoris (chest pain) upon exertion. In turn, it is also associated with the acute obstruction of one of the arteries due to the sudden rupture of an atheromatous plaque, generating the typical pictures of myocardial infarction. Added to this is the development of heart failure and electrical disorders of the heart such as atrial fibrillation, a type of disorder that generates an irregular heart rhythm.


Food education
There are two parameters that can guide professionals to determine the presence of visceral fat in the body: body weight and waist circumference measurement. This last indicator is associated with intra-abdominal fat and, in this case, it is essential to warn about the risk of cardiometabolic disorders.

However, one of the complications of these factors is that relevant symptoms are not observed until patients reach more advanced stages. Patients can have elevated glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol values and not have any symptoms or warning signs. Hence the importance of carrying out clinical controls in order to detect the presence of these risk factors early. An adequate physical examination, blood pressure control and some laboratory parameters are sufficient to initially detect the presence of metabolic disorders.

Los profesionales deben asesorar al paciente para adquirir buenos hábitos alimenticios más allá de las estrategias farmacológicas disponibles (Getty)

As scientific knowledge of cardiometabolism grew, the medical community became more aware of the importance of educating the po[CENSORED]tion about the direct relationship between inadequate eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle with the development of metabolic disorders that later lead to cardiovascular problems, among other complications.

Currently there are more and better tools to achieve better metabolic control in patients with diabetes, as well as pharmacological or even surgical strategies that, integrated with nutritional education, can promote weight loss and minimize the associated risk.


A current problem and a look to the future
The increase in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes suggests that, in the coming years, the cardiovascular complications associated with these disorders will also grow. An important fact is that, according to estimates from the national Ministry of Health, 30% of school-age children are overweight. However, it is possible to intervene today in this complex scenario to improve the situation in the future.


To reverse this, action should be taken at different levels. On the one hand, it is important to emphasize what we call 'primary prevention', which consists of promoting that the po[CENSORED]tion maintain a healthy weight. It is achieved by transmitting proper eating habits and the need to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. In this way it is possible to prevent the development of metabolic complications.

Fortunately, in recent years, a series of pharmacological tools have also been developed that act by regulating both appetite and satiety signals at the brain level. This favors weight loss in a very significant way. This reduces the risk of complications caused by obesity.

Something similar happens with patients with diabetes, since modern treatments, combined with a healthy eating plan and physical activity, allow for adequate metabolic control and cardiovascular protection.

At the ICBA, to achieve better results, we treat these disorders from an approach in conjunction with different disciplines. We form a comprehensive view through a working group that includes educators, nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and cardiology, among other specialties, which allows us to define the best strategy to offer our patients by providing the most appropriate treatment and control tools for each case.



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