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Welcome to Week 4

Cardiovascular disease has either modifiable or non-modifiable risk factors. Dr Natasha Barrett explains how lifestyle choices impact upon prevention.
Welcome to week four. This week, in the following series of short videos, we’ll be exploring some of the risk factors, the factors that increase a person’s likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases, and the ways that people can try to slow down or prevent them from occurring. So by the end of this week, you should have a better understanding of both the non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors and the lifestyle choices that can be made to try and slow down or prevent these diseases occurring. You should also be aware of the computer programmes that can be used to try and predict or calculate a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and understand the reasoning behind each of the questions that they ask.
Risk surrounds us. From the moment we get out of bed in the morning, or even if we decide to stay in bed. Every action, every inaction, poses a potential risk to our wellbeing. Weighing up these risks is what our subconscious and conscious brains spend much of their time doing. Cardiovascular risk factors are those factors that are associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Some of these are described as non-modifiable, which means we can’t change them, for example, age and gender. Others are described as modifiable, because we can choose to try and change them. For example, a poor diet and low activity levels can be changed with positive lifestyle choices.
As I said, risk factors are things that are associated with an increased risk, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they directly cause them. Trying to identify which risk factors are causative and which ones are mainly associated with a condition is an interesting part of research in this area. Some GPs are using computer programmes to try and predict or calculate a person’s likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. And we’ll be using one such programme, the QRISK cardiovascular disease risk calculator. We’ll be exploring the questions that it asks and why. We’ll start with the non-modifiable risk factors, so age, gender, ethnicity, and family history.
Then we’ll look at the semi-modifiable risk factors, such as where you’re from, and other medical conditions or comorbidities that are associated with cardiovascular diseases. Lastly, we’ll be looking at the modifiable risk factors, the ones that you can change, such as smoking, high cholesterol levels, and obesity. Once we’ve explored the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, we’ll look at the ways people can try to slow down or prevent them from developing through lifestyle choices. We’ll be looking at the recommendations for healthy diet, and also the recommended activity levels. So now we’ve introduced some of the risk factors, let’s find out more about them from the experts.

Welcome to the fourth and final week of ‘Heart Health: A Beginner’s Guide to Cardiovascular Disease’. This week we will be looking at risk factors and prevention, before rounding up what you have learnt this week with a final quiz.

We’ll explore two different types of risk factors throughout the week:

  • Risk factors that we can change, also known as modifiable risk factors, such as diet
  • Risk factors that we can’t change, also known as non-modifiable risk factors. These include age and gender

Learning objectives

By the end of this week you should be able to understand or be aware of:

  • The links between various non-modifiable or modifiable risk factors and cardiovascular disease
  • How lifestyle choices can be made to try and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Computer programmes that can help calculate your risk of cardiovascular disease, and the reasoning behind the questions on the QRisk Cardiovascular Disease Risk Calculator

Your Mentors

The mentors will be on hand to help support the discussions and answer your queries between 21 September – 18 October.

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Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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