Skip to Main Content

World Heart Day: Health Facts

Prevention and control of CVD

Main Causes of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

What are the main causes of CVD?

  • High blood pressureHigh blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most important risk factors for CVD. ...
  • SmokingSmoking and other tobacco use is also a significant risk factor for CVD. ...
  • High cholesterol. ...
  • Diabetes. ...
  • Inactivity. ...
  • Being overweight or obese. ...
  • Family history of CVD. ...
  • Ethnic background.

What are the most common cardiovascular diseases?

  • Heart failure.
  • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
  • Heart valve disease.
  • Pericardial disease.
  • Peripheral vascular disease.
  • Rheumatic heart disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Vascular disease (blood vessel disease)

Incredibly Heart-Healthy Foods

What fruit is best for the heart?

  •  Any berries -- strawberries, blueberries, blackberries -- are great choices. Fruits and vegetables in general are excellent choices because of their nutrients and fiber. “Dairy products are high in potassium, and that has a blood-pressure-lowering effect.

What foods do cardiologists recommend to avoid?

  • Bacon, sausage and other processed meats
  • Potato chips and other processed, packaged snacks. ...
  • Dessert. ...
  • Too much protein. ...
  • Fast food. ...
  • Energy drinks. ...
  • Added salt. ...
  • Coconut oil.

Which is the best exercise for heart?

  • Aerobic Exercise
  • What it does: Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate, Stewart says. In addition, it increases your overall aerobic fitness, as measured by a treadmill test, for example, and it helps your cardiac output (how well your heart pumps). Aerobic exercise also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and, if you already live with diabetes, helps you control your blood glucose.
  • How much: Ideally, at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.
  • Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope. Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the kind that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.

Resistance Training (Strength Work)

  • What it does: Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition, Stewart says. For people who are carrying a lot of body fat (including a big belly, which is a risk factor for heart disease), it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • How much: At least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training is a good rule of thumb, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
  • Examples: Working out with free weights (such as hand weights, dumbbells or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats and chin-ups.

Stretching, Flexibility and Balance

  • What they do: Flexibility workouts, such as stretching, don’t directly contribute to heart health. What they do is benefit musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues. That flexibility is a critical part of being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training, says Stewart.
  • “If you have a good musculoskeletal foundation, that enables you to do the exercises that help your heart,” he says. As a bonus, flexibility and balance exercises help maintain stability and prevent falls, which can cause injuries that limit other kinds of exercise.
  • How much: Every day and before and after other exercise.
  • Examples: Your doctor can recommend basic stretches you can do at home, or you can find DVDs or YouTube videos to follow (though check with your doctor if you’re concerned about the intensity of the exercise). Tai chi and yoga also improve these skills, and classes are available in many communities.

What's the Best Exercise for Weight Loss?

  • Both aerobic exercise and resistance training burn calories, as well as help improve your baseline metabolic rate. The more muscle mass you develop, the more calories you burn, says Johns Hopkins exercise physiologist Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D. “Together with diet, that’s what leads to weight loss,” he says.