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Cardiovascular Diseases: Effects of Diet and Exercise


Among a variety of health problems that challenge humans, cardiovascular disease has always been a leading cause of death. People of different ages and both genders are frequently diagnosed with myocardial infarction, stroke, or ischemic heart disease. In addition to individual characteristics, there are many risk factors, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or cholesterol. Due to the inability to manage comorbidities or the consequences of family history, people may follow additional recommendations like avoidance of a sedentary lifestyle. The effects of diet and exercise on cardiovascular disease vary, depending on the frequency of interventions and the quality of food. Healthy dietary habits provoke a decrease in the cholesterol level and the control of blood pressure. Physical exercises support the work of muscles and the reduction of obesity-related problems. Both interventions are discussed in recent studies and by professional organizations. The evaluation of cardiovascular diseases and risk factors, along with nutritional and physical intervention, will be developed in this project. Being effective as separate practices for human health, diet and physical activities have to be combined to help people achieve positive health outcomes, stabilize the work of the heart, and predict mortality.

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Many factors, such as the age of a person, the chosen lifestyle, and family history, contribute to the risk of cardiovascular diseases. At the same time, some health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes increase the prevalence of this group of diseases among the population. People who neglect the importance of physical exercise and support unhealthy habits (eating, smoking, or alcohol abuse) address their therapists for medical help and health checkups regularly (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). According to the ADA’s Medical Knowledge Team (2018), cardiovascular disease is usually a broad term that is used to describe a variety of conditions that influence the work of the heart, including heart attack and stroke. In this research paper, the effects of diet and exercises on the progress of cardiovascular disease will be analyzed. To better understand the connection between dietary habits, physical exercises, and cardiovascular problems, the following aspects have to be discussed:

  1. Cardiovascular diseases as a leading cause of death in the United States
  2. Risk factors that provoke cardiovascular disease
  3. Importance of dietary interventions for cardiac patients
  4. The role of exercise training on cardiovascular disease management
  5. Combined dietary and exercise interventions in cardiovascular events

Cardiovascular Diseases as a Leading Cause of Death in the United States

Angina, heart failure, stroke, infarction, and carditis are diseases with one similar characteristic that is the existence of problems or dysfunction of the heart or blood vessels. These conditions are usually introduced as a part of the same group of illnesses, known as cardiovascular disease (Cannie et al., 2019). It is one of the major causes of mortality worldwide, leading to about 18 million deaths in 2015 (Ruan et al., 2018). Regarding the current statistics and examinations, it is expected to observe the rise in numbers by 2020, with about 22 million people dying from cardiovascular disease annually (Ruan et al., 2018). The analysis of this condition focuses on the identification of associated factors such as age (older adults with damaged arteries and weakened muscles) or gender (women after menopause and men at any age).

There are many types of cardiovascular diseases that are caused by an unbalanced lifestyle and bad habits. For example, myocardial infarction or a heart attack is a condition when blood and oxygen cannot reach the heart muscle because of a blocked coronary artery (Saleh & Ambrose, 2018). Patients usually report on such symptoms as sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. Blood tests, a physical examination, and an electrocardiogram are the main diagnostic methods to check the condition and identify the level of the blockage and protein rating (Cannie et al., 2019). Patients get access to several pharmacological and operative treatment plans to remove the blocked vessel and promote oxygen transportation.

An ischemic stroke or simply stroke is another form of cardiovascular disease, the distinctive feature of which is that it occurs not in the heart but in the brain, affecting the work of blood vessels. The prevalence of stroke is discussed in terms of age and gender (more common in men aged between 70-79 years) (Ruan et al., 2018). The symptoms of this condition are usually sudden and short, so it is necessary for people in risk groups to be aware of the major signs and address for help as soon as possible. There is a FAST campaign for healthcare employees and populations to pay attention to the condition of face (dropping), arm (weakness), speech (difficult speaking), and time (call an ambulance soon) (Hickey et al., 2018). Other symptoms to consider include headache, soreness, vision problems, and confusion. In addition to the already mentioned tests, computer tomography scans are helpful to observe the brain and define damaged areas.

Risk Factors That Provoke Cardiovascular Disease

In addition to age and gender factors, family history, and unhealthy habits, cardiovascular disease may be provoked by such health conditions as high blood pressure, diabetes, and abnormal blood cholesterol levels. They are known as the major risk factors that provoke cardiovascular diseases. When the pressure of the blood is elevated and poorly controlled, it influences the work of the heart and the brain. As a silent killer, blood pressure must be reduced (if it is more than 115/75 mmHg) by means of antihypertensive drugs and therapies (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019; Stewart et al., 2017). In addition, regular measurements and lifestyle changes are recommended to manage risks and predict cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes is a common chronic condition among people of different ages around the globe. It is characterized by high glucose levels in the blood, which results in the artery walls being damaged and fatty deposits being gathered in the arteries to provoke cardiovascular disease (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). Diabetic patients use insulin to control glucose and discover new sources of energy. The reduction of sugar in the blood is connected with the possibility of reducing the number of cardiovascular-related deaths (Stewart et al., 2017). However, if older adults are diagnosed with diabetes, they are at risk of having heart complications often.

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Finally, the evaluation of the level of cholesterol is important in measuring the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is a substance that is made by the liver, but its amount is usually not enough, and people have to take special food to maintain its healthy level (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). If extra cholesterol is observed, it may promote the creation of additional walls and boundaries in the arteries and challenge the heart, the brain, and kidneys. In the majority of cases, people do not have any symptoms during this condition, and the only chance to learn the levels is to take tests and check it up.

Importance of Dietary Interventions for Cardiac Patients

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, people are expected to stick to a balanced diet and their obesity-related problems. According to Stewart et al. (2017), diet is an intervention that plays a crucial role in predicting cardiovascular disease risks, but not much evidence is available about direct guidelines for people. For example, in the United States, there is the American Heart Association (AHA) that aims at developing various methods to promote healthy eating. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) contain recommendations on how to use low-sugar products, including vegetables, fruits, and grains (Stewart et al., 2017). Diets that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol are also preferable to assist in stabilizing blood pressure (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). When patients have cardiovascular problems, their care plans are usually based on sugarless and saltiness diets.

More attention should be paid to salt and its impact on people’s tastes and health. In the majority of cases, people cannot stop using salt to add taste to their food. Millions of people around the globe take salt-water baths to improve the skin’s condition. The point is that salt consists of a number of elements, and one of them is sodium. The consumption of salty products must be minimized because sodium is associated with water retention, which, in its turn, provokes high blood pressure and heart failure risks (Bowen et al., 2018). Allowed limits of sodium are between <1500-2400 mg/day to achieve a blood pressure-lowering effect (Bowen et al., 2018). However, complete removal of salt from a daily ration is never recommended because the presence of this element in the organism has its positive outcomes.

Nowadays, people get access to a variety of diets that meet their preferences and physiological changes and depend on geographical locations. For example, Mediterranean diets focus on the diversity of fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, and dairy and reduce the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke (Lanier et al., 2016). Swedish diet that is characterized by a low intake of fat and sugar contributes to managing the risks of ischemic heart disease (Lanier et al., 2016). In many developing and developed countries, people follow the principles of the DASH diet because the results of cohort studies prove the connection between dietary changes and cardiovascular outcomes (Lanier et al., 2016). Patients who have coronary artery disease should include the DASH diet to their treatment plan and focus on the consumption of nuts, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. In the world, there are many dietary interventions that depend on the quality of food and its accessibility in regions. Even if a person is not diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, physicians discuss the worth of specific diets to predict strokes and other heart-related complications.

Talking about dietary interventions, one should admit the importance of switching products and substances in the system. For example, saturated fats should be replaced with polyunsaturated fats (Stewart et al., 2017). Proteins are helpful in stabilizing the functions of the heart, and it is necessary to balance meat, fish, and vegetables that are rich in protein. The addition of the food that is rich in fiber is also considered as a healthy diet for people who are at risk of having heart problems (Bowen et al., 2018). These diets are effective for patients who try to manage their diabetes complications. Alcohol is not dangerous if normal limits are followed (one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men) (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). Still, if a person has already diagnosed with heart disease, many doctors share the same thought – a total avoidance of alcohol.

The Role of Exercise Training on Cardiovascular Disease Management

The improvement of lifestyle modifications is an obligatory step in promoting a positive impact of health outcomes associated with cardiovascular disease. Although mortality and morbidity ratings due to physical exercises are minimal, the benefits of these initiatives cannot be ignored (Stewart et al., 2017). Guidelines and recommendations for society are usually developed by professional organizations and communities, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is one of them. In other words, people are not obliged to participate in exercises and physical training. Still, NICE continues offering different ways to promote health and reduce risks. The most common tasks include 150 minutes of moderately intensive aerobic activities or 75 minutes of dynamic activities per week (Stewart et al., 2017). Muscle strengthening is another activity that should occur once or twice per week (Stewart et al., 2017). However, people who are at risk of having heart problems should consult their therapists if the offered modification is appropriate for their specific health conditions.

The lack or absence of physical activities may result in the growth of heart disease and related physiological and health changes such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Following several simple exercises regularly helps burn calories and maintains a healthy weight, which results in decreasing obesity and cholesterol problems (“The many ways exercise helps your heart,” 2018). The promotion of positive physiological and mood changes is also observed because the arteries are able to dilate (“The many ways exercise helps your heart,” 2018). There is one fact that has to be understood by all people who want to use physical activities as a means to predict cardiovascular disease: one or two irregular interventions are hardly effective. To achieve positive results and feel changes, exercises must be regular and last more than one week or even month. In addition, it is better to stop smoking, which may become one of the most cost-effective interventions (Stewart et al., 2017). When all these recommendations and hints on how to protect the heart from damage are properly followed, people get an opportunity to reach the full effect of cardiovascular disease prevention.

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Combined Dietary and Exercise Interventions in Cardiovascular Events

The control of health conditions that increase cardiovascular risks is possible plays a crucial role. Individuals who take care of their dietary habits and reduce the use of unhealthy food experience face fewer or no problems with blood pressure that is a major risk factor for heart disease (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). People who take physical exercises regularly also get an opportunity of reducing obesity-related problems, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels (Stewart et al., 2017). The combination of dietary and exercise interventions is frequently recommended by their therapists and cardiologist for older adult patients with heart disease (Ruan et al., 2018). Some people find it normal to reduce the intake of fat or salty products without a professional medical examination or exhaust themselves with regular exercise to achieve the desired weight. Such decisions may cause more harm than positive outcomes because not all bodies are ready for these physiological changes. Therefore, in all cases, professional recommendations and medical experts’ support have to be recognized.

Another important aspect to remember is that certain health improvements due to exercises and diets are observed with time. It means that any practice (either diet or exercise) should not be a one-day initiative (“The many ways exercise helps your heart,” 2018). People have to develop special plans and follow them regularly during at least a month. In other words, if a person sticks to a diet during 1-2 weeks only, no evident results and positive changes in regard to cardiovascular disease prevention could be observed. Several physical activities once or twice per year would be hardly effective, and the threat of cardiovascular disease exists. As soon as a physician discovers the risk of cardiovascular disease, additional tests should be taken to examine the condition of the patient. When no evident threats associated with lifestyle changes are approved, further dietary changes or physical activities may be added to a treatment plan. In general, cooperation with a healthcare expert, keeping a diet and exercises on track, and following recommendations have to be a long-time procedure, with regular improvements and changes as per personal health characteristics.

The idea to combine exercise and diet is successfully promoted if participants consider the basics of both initiatives. In the United States, physicians support behavioral counseling even for people without evident cardiovascular risk factors (Lanier et al., 2016). The analysis of individual factors in the promotion of adherence to physical and nutritional interventions is required. Only when a person is ready for change, receives appropriate social support, and uses community resources, the reduction of heart problems is possible (Lanier et al., 2016). A sedentary lifestyle (the lack of a healthy diet and physical activities) is dangerous for a human heart (Saleh & Ambrose, 2018). In addition, people cannot control the impact of risk factors and comorbidities on cardiovascular disease (Ruan et al., 2018). Therefore, instead of provoking new problems, exercises and diet cannot be ignored. The combination of these interventions is characterized by the reduction of blood pressure problems and weight growth, which are the major risks of cardiovascular disease.


Cardiovascular diseases may vary, depending on symptoms and individual factors. The choice of a diet and the desire to take physical exercises regularly improve health, contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and predict the growth of risk factors in older adults. However, significant changes in body weight and blood pressure are not enough to protect the population against cardiovascular diseases. Many health conditions provoke the heart’s damage or dysfunction of the brain. Therefore, attention to existing comorbidities and external factors, along with diet and exercise, is always required. In this research paper, the effects of exercise and diet on human hearts were discussed through the prism of the analysis of cardiovascular diseases, its types, and risk factors. In addition, the effectiveness of a combination of physical activities and nutritional recommendations was proved by evaluating their separate outcomes and their suitability.


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  2. Bowen, K. J., Sullivan, V. K., Kris-Etherton, P. M., & Petersen, K. S. (2018). Nutrition and cardiovascular disease – An update. Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 20(2). Web.
  3. Cannie, D. E., Akhtar, M. M., & Elliott, P. (2019). Hidden in heart failure. European Cardiology Review, 14(2), 89-96. Web.
  4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Know your risk for heart disease. CDC. Web.
  5. Lanier, J. B., Bury, D. C., & Richardson, S. W. (2016). Diet and physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention. American Family Physician, 93(11), 919-924. Web.
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  8. Saleh, M., & Ambrose, J. A. (2018). Understanding myocardial infarction. F1000Research, 7. Web.
  9. Stewart, J., Manmathan, G., & Wilkinson, P. (2017). Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: A review of contemporary guidance and literature. JRSM Cardiovascular Disease, 6. Web.

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