Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the UK, it accounts for almost 191,000 deaths each year. This represents one in three of all deaths. While this figure is an improvement on previous years, it is still alarming and not something to be ignored.
Large efforts have been made in recent years to increase people’s awareness with regard to cardiovascular disease. Some success has been made in that every year there are less and less deaths from cardiovascular disease however it still remains the leading cause of death in the UK. We can all agree awareness has been created, but it is also necessary to motivate individuals to make positive changes to their everyday lifestyle. Awareness is the easier part, behaviour modification is a lot more difficult and this is the key to reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the UK.
Poor diet, high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, diabetes and stress play a critical role in the development of cardiovascular disease.
A reduction in saturated fat, abundant in meat and full fat dairy products is one of the primary dietary steps necessary to reduce heart disease risk. This in conjunction with a fish oil supplements are a fundamental component of any eating plan to protect cardiovascular health. Trans fatty acids have been clearly implicated in the development of heart disease, trans fats raise LDL "bad” cholesterol and lower levels of HDL "bad cholesterol. Any foods containing trans fatty acids which include low quality baked goods, crisps and processed foods as well as fast foods such as chips should be minimised.
The heart is a muscle and like any other muscle it benefits from exercise. Regular physical exercise is thought to exert its beneficial effects through its role in weight management, improved glucose tolerance, improved fat metabolism and improved muscular function and oxygen capacity.
Obesity, especially abdominal obesity is associated with a higher ratio of LDL "bad” cholesterol compared to HDL "good” cholesterol, hypertension and increased risk of adult onset diabetes which are all independent risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease. Maintaining a healthy weight through the combination of a balanced diet and regular physical activity can substantially reduce the risk of heart disease.
Supplementation is also key for cardiovascular health in conjunction with dietary measures.
Aged garlic extract has powerful and scientifically proven cardio protective properties. As the garlic ages an array of beneficial sulphur compounds are formed that are not normally present in garlic, most significantly S-allylcysteine and S-allylmercaptocysteine. These compounds exert many beneficial effects in supporting circulation, good cholesterol levels and general heart health.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, they are not synthesised in the body and therefore must be obtained directly from diet and supplements. They support artery health, good cholesterol levels and general heart health due to their regulatory roles in blood pressure, blood clotting and inflammation.
Co-enzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant which has a significant role in supporting cholesterol levels by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Co-enzyme Q10 is also recommended for those taking statin drugs as these deplete levels of co-enzyme Q10.
Elevated levels of Homocysteine can damage the arterial endothelium and is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Supplementing with folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can help to reduce Homocysteine levels.
Take a step in the right direction this February for heart health month.