Health risks and prevention: cardiovascular disease and cancers

Some of the risk factors that can be controlled to prevent serious illness include checking the intake of cholesterol and saturated fats, weight regulation through exercise and proper diet, checking intake of sodium, avoiding use of tobacco, and reducing stress levels through change in lifestyle.

Hypertension is “sustained high blood pressure” (Donatelle, 2009, p. 357) with a systolic/diastolic reading above 140/90mm Hg. Hypertension increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Hypertension is a dangerous condition since it presents no symptoms thus it kills “silently.” Good enough, it can be prevented through regular exercise, checking the intake of sodium and calories, avoiding stress as well as use of medications such as diuretics.

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If there is a family history of a certain cardiovascular condition, the likelihood of developing a cardiometabolic condition increases. In both males and females, the risk of developing CVD increases with age and persons over 65 years old are at a higher risk than all other ages. Prior to age 60, men are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular compared to women. However, women are more prone to developing CVD after menopause. Race is also a factor in CVD development with African Americans being at a higher risk (45%) of developing CVD compared to whites (Donatelle, 2009).

The most common types of cancers include lung cancer, breast cancer, colon and rectal cancers, skin cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical and uterine cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, and leukemia.

Smoking is the main risk factor in the development of lung cancer. This cancer can be treated using chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapy depending on whether it is localized or metastasized.

Breast cancer is mainly associated with an increase in age, family history, early menarche and late menopause, postmenopausal obesity, as well as hormone replacement therapy after menopause, late child bearing, excessive alcohol, high socioeconomic status and education level and failure to bear children. Breast cancer can be treated using chemotherapy (selective estrogen-receptor modulators), mastectomy, radiation therapy, and lumpectomy.

Colon and rectal cancers are common among persons aged 50 years and above, with a family history of the cancers, obesity, a history of polyps of the colon or rectum, a history of colitis, low fiber intake, high fat diets, smoking, low consumption of vegetables and fruits, excessive alcohol intake and inactive lifestyles. Surgery and radiotherapy are the main treatment options for rectal and colon cancer although chemotherapy is also a possibility (Donatelle, 2009).

Risk factors for skin cancer include overexposure to sunlight without proper protection especially for persons with low melanin, family history for skin cancer or previous occurrence of the cancer. Surgery is the main treatment option with radiation therapy and cryosurgery being alternative treatments.

Males who are more than 65 years are more likely to have prostate cancer. In addition, African Americans men have a higher risk of prostate cancer just as it is with men with a family history of the cancer. High fat diets, lack of exercise, obesity and vasectomy increase risks of prostate cancer (Donatelle, 2009).

C-reactive protein (CRP) test is that is used to detect the levels of C-reactive proteins which are indicative of inflammation. High levels of CRP in the serum indicate that there is high inflammation which also indicates a higher likelihood of CVD. CRP test is recommended for persons who are at the risk of cardiovascular disease (Wagner, 2004), rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. Although the cost of CRP varies with the laboratory, it costs approximately $20 to carry out the test (Heart Health, 2010).

This course provides a good basis for professional handling of cardiovascular disease and cancer among other risky illnesses. In particular, knowledge on risks and prevention will be invaluable in approaching these sicknesses from a preventive rather than a curative point. In general, this course lays the background for pursuit of a career in community health with a focus on cardiovascular disease.

References

Donatelle, R. J. (2009). Health: the basics. Eighth Edition. California, CA: Benjamin Cummings. ISBN: 0-558-34154-3.

Heart Health. (2009). What you should know about C-reactive protein. Retrieved 1, Sept. 2010 from http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/reports/heart_health/3041-1.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

Wagner, S. (Producer). (2004, April 16). “20/20. Cardiovascular disease.” Online video clip. Pearson Health video library. Retrieved 1, Sept. 2010 from http://www.pearsoncustom.com/us/axia_healthvideos

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