Cardiovascular disease (CVD) covers a range of conditions which affect the heart and circulation, those most common are heart attack and stroke. Both are the leading cause of death worldwide!
A heart attack occurs when the coronary arteries which feed the heart with blood become blocked. When these sudden blockages occur, the heart is derived of the blood and oxygen it needs to function – if this occurs for too long the heart muscle will cease to function and die.
A stroke occurs along the same premise but in small arteries in the brain blocking the blood and oxygen supply needed. A second type of stroke can occur when there is a rupture in an artery which results in internal bleeding in the brain.
It is obvious how detrimental and deadly these two conditions are to a person which is the reason heart attacks and stroke kill more people than anything else. The scary fact is that in 2012 alone these conditions accounted for 14 million deaths worldwide – which is a rise of a staggering 20% from the year 2000.
So where does exercise fit in to this? A sedentary lifestyle is one of five major risk factors to CVD along with high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipid values, smoking and obesity. Regular exercise has a positive effect on many of the outlined risk factors such as managing weight gain and reducing blood pressure. Exercise has also shown to reduce our “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood and alternatively raises our “good” cholesterol levels. In the case of Diabetics regular exercise can improve the body’s ability to use insulin to control glucose level in the blood. It is important to note that these benefits can have a dramatic improvement on the risk of CVD but only when exercise is continued regularly and other lifestyle modifications are implemented alongside.
We can most certainly take steps in preventing cardiovascular disease and reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke! Here are a few lifestyle modifications which alongside regular physical activity can reduce our risk of Cardiovascular Disease;
- Eat a well-balanced diet of complex carbohydrate rich foods – fruit, vegetables and fish, low in fat, sugar and salt (Consult a Dietitian further if you have any specific dietary concerns or needs)
- Reduce alcohol intake to a health limit
- Avoid smoking tobacco and second hand smoke
- Seek to positively manage emotions and stress levels
These few steps could be lifesaving and can normalize blood pressure and cholesterol levels, manage body weight and prevent the onset of diabetes – all are the key influencers of cardiovascular disease risk.
Cardiovascular conditions are life threatening and it is important to understand the risks, assess your lifestyle and health to identify how you can see improvements to health and daily wellbeing. Book in with our Accredited Exercise Physiologists in order to gain insight and guidance on how keeping physically active can be extremely beneficial to overall health and wellbeing and reduce the risks of these killer diseases!