Influence of Diet and Lifestyle on Heart Health

Heart is a major organ in the cardiovascular system. On account of world heart day, let’s discuss it in detail. Heredity is one of the main reasons for heart disease. However, diet, exercise, and lifestyle play a crucial role in maintaining your heart health. With the world seeing more people being affected by heart disease, awareness of the role of the three in preventing cardiovascular disease is the need of the hour.

There is a wide array of problems that may arise within the cardiovascular system. A few examples of these are endocarditis, rheumatic heart disease, abnormalities in the conduction system, among others. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) or heart disease refer to the following conditions.

  1. Coronary artery disease (CAD): Sometimes referred to as Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), results from decreased myocardial perfusion that causes angina, myocardial infarction (MI), and/or heart failure. It accounts for one-third to one-half of the cases of CVD.
  2. Cerebrovascular disease (CVD): Including stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  3. Peripheral artery disease (PAD): Particularly arterial disease involving the limbs that may result in claudication
  4. Aortic atherosclerosis: Including thoracic and abdominal aneurysmsimprove heart health

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in Western countries, representing almost 30% of all deaths worldwide. Evidence shows the effectiveness of healthy dietary patterns and lifestyles for the prevention of CVD. Furthermore, the rising number of CVD cases over the last 25 years has become a public health priority. The prevention of CVD (or cardiovascular events) through lifestyle interventions are considered to be of utmost importance now.

Several epidemiological studies in the past decade have demonstrated a 45–81% decrease in heart failure incidence in those following a healthy lifestyle (regular physical activity, healthy dietary pattern, normal BMI, no or moderate alcohol intake and not smoking).

Dietary influence

Dietary intervention allows better combination of multiple foods and nutrients. A healthy dietary pattern with wholesome food shows a greater magnitude of beneficial effects than the potential effects of a single nutrient supplementation.

The healthy eating pattern should focus on

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Fish/poultry
  • Moderate dairy
  • Heart-healthy vegetable oil intakeheart healthy foods

Poor eating pattern has a major influence on the heart health:

  • Low Vitamin D levels have been associated with Heart failure.
  • CoQ10 deficiency has been associated with myocardial dysfunction.
  • Multivitamin supplementation has been advocated to reduce cardiovascular events.
  • Probiotics plays a vital role in lowering both BP and circulating lipids.

Also awareness in avoiding or restricting the following is very important to protect the heart.

  • Refined grains
  • Added sugar
  • Trans-fats
  • Red and processed meats.

The traditional Mediterranean-type diet is the right example for this healthy dietary pattern. Given that we now understand the components of this diet sufficiently, it may be possible to translate this pattern to other regions, with appropriate similar food replacements based on food availability and preferences.

Considering the increasing trend on heart diseases for this World Heart Day, the World Heart Federation has come up with the concept of taking a mission on the following points to ensure heart health equity for all for a better life.

  • A promise to our families to cook and eat more healthily
  • A promise to our children to exercise more and help them to be more active, to say no to smoking and help our loved ones to stop
  • A promise as a healthcare professional to help patients give up smoking and lower their cholesterol
  • A promise as a policymaker to support policies that promote healthy hearts
  • A promise as an employee to invest in heart-healthy workplaces
  • A simple promise … for MY HEART, for YOUR HEART, for ALL OUR HEARTS.

By making just a few small changes to our lives, we can reduce our risk of heart disease and improve our quality of life. This World Heart Day, let’s vow to join together in improving the quality of our life by taking care of our heart.

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