3 Steps To A Healthier Heart

"According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year."

CVD affects the heart and blood vessels and includes conditions such as coronary heart disease, various vascular diseases, and other conditions, with more than four out of five CVD deaths caused by heart attacks and strokes, according to WHO data.

Yet, in many cases, heart disease is preventable as these many of the associated conditions are attributable to lifestyle factors.

 

 The leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke are: 

 

  • High blood pressure
  • High low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure
  • Obesity
  • An unhealthy diet
  • A lack of physical activity

 

 Step 1: Make your heart work 

 

You can strengthen the powerful walls of your heart with exercise to create a stronger, more efficient pump that pushes greater volumes of blood around our body with every beat.

A stronger heart also requires fewer beats per minute to meet our demands (that's why fitter people have a lower).

 

In this regard, a study led by University of Oxford researchers found that there is no upper threshold to the benefits of exercise in improving your heart health. Researchers stated that any exercise, no matter how vigorous or for how long, can help to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

 

This can be as simple as moving more or walking every day, or through more intense and intentional exercise, especially cardiovascular activities such as running, cycling, skipping or swimming as there are the most efficient at improving heart and lung function.

 

Weight training can also benefit your heart and cardiovascular system. In a meta-analysis published in 2022, researchers determined that “muscle-strengthening activities were inversely associated with the risk of all-cause mortality and major non-communicable diseases,” including cardiovascular disease.

 

 Step 2: Eat a heart-healthy diet 

According to research, there are various ways to structure your diet to improve cardiovascular health.

 

In one study, researchers in Israel determined that diets high in protein, zinc and vitamin B3, like the Mediterranean Diet, boost heart health, including “better vascular structure and function".

 

 Step 3: Include heart health supplements 

You can also support your health-healthy diet and exercise regimen with a suitable supplement plan.

 

There are various supplements that are linked with better heart and overall cardiovascular health, including:

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids: In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, a meta-analysis that reviewed data from over 10 studies, omega‐3 supplements were how to lower the risk for heart attack and death from coronary heart disease. 
  • Co-enzyme Q10 (Co-Q10): A study published in Cardiovascular Pharmacology suggests that this substance may have “significant cardiovascular protective effects” that could help prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Magnesium: A high magnesium intake is associated with lower risk of major cardiovascular risk factors, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes and hypertension, as well as stroke and total CVD.
  • B vitamins: B-group vitamins support nervous system function, which is essential for optimal heart function. Study findings found that among those hospitalised for heart failure, 27% had a vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency and 38% had low vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) levels. 

References:

  1. World Health Organization Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) Fact Sheet. 11 June 2021. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)
  2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) Fact Sheet. September 8, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/heart-disease-stroke.htm#:~:text=Leading%20risk%20factors%20for%20heart,unhealthy%20diet%2C%20and%20physical%20inactivity.
  3. Ramakrishnan R, Doherty A, Smith-Byrne K, Rahimi K, Bennett D, et al. Accelerometer measured physical activity and the incidence of cardiovascular disease: Evidence from the UK Biobank cohort study. PLOS Medicine. January 2021. 18(9): e1003809. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003809.
  4. Momma H, Kawakami R, Honda T, et al. Muscle-strengthening activities are associated with lower risk and mortality in major non-communicable diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2022;56:755-763.
  5. A diet rich in protein, zinc and niacin and low in saturated fat makes blood vessels more flexible, Israeli research suggests. Reports and Proceedings. European Association For The Study Of Obesity. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/951428
  6. U Y, Hu FB, Manson JE. Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease: An Updated Meta-Analysis of 13 Randomized Controlled Trials Involving 127 477 Participants. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Oct;8(19):e013543. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.013543. Epub 2019 Sep 30. PMID: 31567003; PMCID: PMC6806028.
  7. Patrick Tillman, Pollen K. Yeung. Coenzyme Q10 for Cardiovascular Prevention. Cardiol Pharmacol 2013, 3:1 DOI: 10.4172/2329-6607.1000e125
  8. Rosique-Esteban N, Guasch-Ferré M, Hernández-Alonso P, Salas-Salvadó J. Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies. Nutrients. 2018 Feb 1;10(2):168. doi: 10.3390/nu10020168. PMID: 29389872; PMCID: PMC5852744.
  9. Keith, M. E. Walsh, N.A. Et al. B-Vitamin Deficiency in Hospitalized Patients with Heart Failure. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. August 2009. 109(8):1406-10. DOI:10.1016/j.jada.2009.05.011
  10. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2015-2020. Eighth Edition. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-10/DGA_Cut-Down-On-Saturated-Fats.pdf


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