Your heart beats on average more than 100,000 times every single day – sometimes faster, sometimes slower depending on how much you are exerting yourself. It pumps blood around your blood without rest, providing all the organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients. But what happens when this no longer happens like clockwork? If your heart and its vessels are damaged, you suffer from what we call cardiovascular disease. This includes a range of conditions such as angiopathy (coronary heart disease), high blood pressure, a heart attack or stroke.
What is the cause of cardiovascular disease? Your lifestyle is a major factor. Put on too many pounds and you have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure and elevated levels of blood lipids (cholesterol and triglyceride) are also key risk factors. You are also at risk of developing disease through lack of exercise.
Cardiovascular diseases are caused by the build-up of deposits of substances such as triglycerides (fat particles) and cholesterol in the blood vessels. This causes the vessels to harden, narrow or even close. Blood can no longer flow unhindered. In the coronary vessels this disruption to the blood circulation can provoke heart pain, heart rhythm irregularities and a sudden heart attack if the vessels are completely blocked through the formation of a blood clot . The same happens in the case of a stroke when the cerebral arteries are affected.
You can help improve the health and efficiency of your cardiovascular system by opting for "heart-healthy" foods and drinks. Following a low-energy, high fiber and fat-reducing diet will help you toimprove your blood pressure and blood lipid levels and also reduce your weight. For a good supply of fiber, you should be putting fresh vegetables, salad and fruit on your daily menu. You should favor high-quality vegetable oils such as rapeseed, walnut, olive oil and margarine from non-hydrogenated fats. They are all rich in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have a positive impact on blood lipids. Omega-3 fatty acids in saltwater fish are also important for the normal functioning of the heart. So make sure you have a fish dish two to three times a week with a small portion of salmon, tuna or mackerel. If your triglyceride readings are high, you should avoid alcohol, sugar, fructose and eat only small quantities of the products made from them. It is important to take regular exercise too.
Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death worldwide. 17.3 million people died as a result of it, 30% of all deaths, according to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) for 2008. In the years to come, the figure is expected to rise further. This must be seen in the context of risk factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyles, high blood pressure and high levels of blood lipids.