We will explain the most important recommendations of these guidelines so that a prevention process can begin today.
In healthy individuals, the step-by-step approach to reducing cardiovascular risk, begins with the following recommendations: cease smoking, adopt a healthy lifestyle, and maintain a systolic blood pressure below 160 mmHg.
To stop smoking is probably the most effective of all preventative measures, with substantial reduction in heart attacks or death. The risk of CVD in smokers under the age of 50 is five times greater than in non-smokers. All smokers should be encouraged to stop smoking. Passive smoking should be avoided by non-smokers whenever possible.
For the first time, these guidelines refer explicitly to smoking cessation being recommended, regardless of weight gain, it continues to be beneficial. Although evidence suggests that the electronic cigarette can be more effective than nicotine replacement therapy to stop smoking, its long-term effects are not yet clear.
With regards to exercise, adults of all ages should strive to achieve at least 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise, or 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous intensity. For the first time, the reduction of sedentary time and the practice of at least one light activity throughout the day is recommended.
New recommendations for nutrition include adopting a Mediterranean or similar diet; alcohol restriction, consumption to a maximum of 100 g per week (a standard drink contains 8 to 14 g); fish, preferably fatty, at least once a week and restriction on the consumption of processed meats.
As far as body weight is concerned, weight reduction and obesity are recommended to lower blood pressure, blood lipid levels and the risk of diabetes, thus reducing the likelihood of CVD. For the first time, guidelines established that bariatric surgery should be considered for obese individuals at high risk of CVD when a healthy diet and exercise do not result in sustained weight loss.
Mental disorders such as anxiety are associated with an increased risk of CVD and a worse prognosis for those already diagnosed with CVD. A recent recommendation is to provide intensified support to patients with these conditions to improve adherence to lifestyle changes and drug therapy.
The guidelines also recommend policy interventions, such as reducing pollution, greater availability of school playgrounds and legislation that restricts the sale of unhealthy foods to children by the media, television, the internet and social media.