Explore a nutritional approach to effectively manage cardiovascular diseases. This article provides insights into dietary strategies and considerations for promoting heart health and preventing cardiovascular issues.

Nutritional Approach To Manage Cardiovascular Diseases

  • Susmitha G
The rising incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is urging people to make changes in their daily schedule which start with a healthy/balanced diet, regular physical activities, and adequate sleep. A healthy dietary pattern can significantly lower the risk of CVD. Nutrition is a major component of the management of cardiovascular diseases. Study findings suggest that people who adhere to healthy eating patterns are 14% to 21% less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than those who do not follow a healthy diet.
Along with a healthy diet, improving your sleeping patterns is also key to reducing heart-related health risks. Read on to know how adapting a healthy nutritional approach can go hand-in-hand with managing cardiovascular diseases.
What are Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD)?
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a group of disorders that affect the heart and blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke.

Common causes of Cardiovascular Diseases:

  1. Genetics
  2. Aging
  3. Diet
  4. Smoking
  5. Drinking
  6. Inadequate sleep
  7. Diabetes
CVDs typically arise due to a buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries (atherosclerosis), which restrict blood flow to the heart and other vital organs. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances that stick to the walls of the arteries, making them narrower and harder. This reduces blood flow and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Cardiovascular concerns if not managed on time can cause morbidity and mortality worldwide, which is currently seeing an alarming increase annually.

Role of diet in reducing the risk of Cardiovascular Disease:

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the prevention and management of CVD. A heart-healthy diet should be low in saturated and trans fats, high in fiber, and include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
This type of diet can help manage risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. Limiting salt and added sugars and avoiding processed foods can also be beneficial to improve heart health. Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and potassium, have been shown to have specific benefits for CVD.
Studies have shown that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables improves blood pressure and microvascular function. An impaired microvascular function can contribute to the development of various health problems, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. A key feature of dietary fiber is its fermentability, which reduces low-density lipoproteins (LDL) levels. Adequate fiber intake reduces the risk of CVD, coronary disease (CD), and stroke.
Hypertension, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and atherosclerosis are CVDs that are closely associated with unhealthy dietary patterns. CVD mortality is largely attributed to atherosclerosis, an inflammatory disease. Research says that chronic inflammation plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of coronary artery disease, which is another major cause of CVD deaths. Systemic inflammation and oxidative stress are modifiable by nutrition with a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.

Nutrition for Cardiac Patients:

A healthy diet can help reduce the risk of developing CVD, and can also help in managing existing conditions, such as hypertension and high cholesterol. Here are some key nutrition considerations for cardiac patients:
1) Increase intake of fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of CVD. A wide variety of heart-healthy fruits and vegetables, especially red ones, are rich in antioxidants that reduce the risk of developing heart-associated problems like high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.
2) Reduce sodium intake: High sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for CVD. Limiting processed foods, and using herbs and spices to flavor food instead of salt helps in limiting  salt usage. Fresh foods are naturally low in sodium and are heart-healthy options over processed and packed foods.
3) Limit added sugars: Consuming high amounts of added sugars has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Avoiding sugary beverages and limiting desserts and confectionaries can help to reduce sugar intake.
4) Limit saturated and trans fats: Saturated and trans fats are found in many animal-based foods, including meat, cheese, and butter, as well as in processed and fried foods. Saturated and trans fats can raise cholesterol levels, which is a prime risk factor for CVD. Cardiac patients should choose lean protein sources, such as fish and plant-based proteins like legumes, lentils and tofu.
5) Choose heart-healthy fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have a positive effect on heart health. They can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and some vegetable oils (soybean, canola, and sunflower). Although these fats are considered healthy, they are still high in calories, hence it is important to consume them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
In addition to a healthy diet, it is also important to maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular physical activity, and find better ways to manage stress to prevent and manage cardiovascular diseases. It is recommended to consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider for individualized dietary recommendations.

How can Medvarsity help in scaling your career in Nutrition?

Medvarsity is Asia’s largest healthcare ed-tech company that provides various courses for healthcare professionals. All the courses by Medvarsity are curated by experts in the respective fields of medicine. Medvarsity’s Fellowship course in Clinical Nutrition helps doctors and healthcare professionals to update their knowledge of nutrition science in addressing various lifestyle diseases and chronic health conditions.
Apart from gaining theoretical knowledge, healthcare professionals opting for a Fellowship in Clinical Nutrition can acquire relevant practical expertise that helps scale up their careers.
All the Fellowship courses provided by Medvarsity are self-paced programs with a case-to-case-based learning approach that helps learners gain their overall knowledge and skills in their specialized areas. Also, learners who enroll in Medvarsity’s fellowship program will have access to International books and journals published by McGraw Hill and Wolters Kluwer.

Key Features of Fellowship in Clinical Nutrition:

  • 9-Month online course to gain clinical expertise in Nutrition
  • Obtain invaluable clinical experience through a 4-week hospital contact program
  • Gain skills to analyze eating behaviors related to various diseases and malignancies
  • Learn about nutrition and its impact on different body organ systems
  • Improve patient/client outcomes by acquiring clinical knowledge
  • Get enabled to run a nutritional unit
In conclusion, a balanced  nutritional approach to cardiovascular diseases represents a promising strategy to mitigate the global burden of heart disease. A dietary pattern rich in wholesome, minimally processed foods, and low in added sugars, trans and saturated fats can effectively lower the risk of developing heart disease, lower blood pressure, and prevent the progression of existing cardiovascular conditions.
In light of the escalating prevalence of heart disease, embracing a nutritional approach has become more critical than ever in reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with this devastating disease.
Watch out for the latest webinars by experts in the nutrition field on assimilate.one and gain critical insights to enhance your practice.

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