Cardiovascular disease is a group of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels.
It is caused by a build-up of plaque and fatty deposits in the coronary artery wall causing a narrowing or the vessels (atherosclerosis). If a blood clot forms or there is a spasm of the artery the opening to the artery is narrowed which results in reduced blood flow. This leads to reduced blood flow to the heart and ultimately a heart attack.
Cardiovascular disease accounts for a third of all deaths (30-50%) but the good news is that people are living longer after events such as a heart attack. The downside unfortunately is that the vessels and heart have some scarring on them which can lead to complications in later months and years.
There are many risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, here are just a few:
- The non-modifiable risk factors include aspects that we cannot change, such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history
- The modifiable factors are those elements that we can change such as smoking, cholesterol, weight, nutrition, blood pressure, alcohol consumption and physical lifestyle.
Other factors include air pollution and stress.
Exercise plays an important role in reducing:
- adipose (fatty) tissue and the fatty build up within the coronary artery walls
- the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism
- the risk of developing osteoarthritis
- blood pressure
Exercise also improves:
- Cardiac function
- Our ability for blood to clot
When exercising with a cardiovascular disease it is vital that you speak to you GP prior to starting. Your GP may refer you for exercise testing before you start, and you may also need to have specialised monitoring during your sessions. This will also depend on the condition you suffer with.
A longer warm up is important to avoid ischaemia (a restriction of blood flow) and an extended warm down reduces the risk of arrythmia’s and hypotension.
What should you avoid?
- Avoid static postures and include calf raises
- Avoid swimming as immersion increases risk of left ventricular hypertrophy
- Avoid supine positions (lying on your back)
- Avoid exercising after a heavy meal and or in extreme weather
- Avoid breath holding (Valsalva manoeuvre)
Want to start exercising?
Speak to your GP to ensure you are safe to do so and if you are come and join us at one of our exercises classes. We look forward to welcoming you and helping you acheive your fitness goals.