According to the latest AIHW data, Australians are losing 670,000 years of healthy life due to all forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD), with coronary heart disease remaining the leading cause of death in the nation. It also reports that healthcare spend on cardiovascular disease in Australia in 2019-20 was $12.7 billion. This is more than any other disease.
“Humans were never meant to live beyond 30 years back in the caveman era. While life expectancy continues to get longer, we face more health issues than ever before as our bodies have not evolved to adjust to a longer life. Ageing is unavoidable and as we get older, we are more likely to experience disease,” leading Australian Cardiologist, Dr Ross Walker says.
However, healthy ageing is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. Dr Walker shares some insights into maintaining a healthy heart.
Integrative health strategies have been proven to support optimal heart health, these include:
As we age, the blood vessels and arteries in the cardiovascular system stiffen over time, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through it and increases the risk of high blood pressure. This can strain your heart tremendously, as it works much harder to get oxygen to the rest of your body for optimal function.
While blood pressure can be maintained by taking medication, including speaking to your healthcare practitioner about supplementation such as ubiquinol, which has been clinically proven to support healthy cholesterol, implementing simple lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, cutting down on salt, and quitting addictions will help maintain a healthy heart.
So many diets are available now, but really forget about the GI factor and think more about the HI factor – the human interference factor. The more people fiddle with the food by the time it gets into your mouth, the worse it is for you.
A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids has been proven to improve the heart’s mechanical function and decrease the risk of heart disease. Your body does not naturally make alpha-linolenic acid, so consider how to incorporate it into your diet. While two to three servings of fish per week increase the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, if you are not a fan of seafood, there are plenty of alternatives like walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
If you smoke or use tobacco products, ask your doctor for support on quitting. Smoking contributes to the hardening of your arteries and increases blood pressure and heart rate. Furthermore, the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means that your heart must pump harder to supply the body with oxygen. Whereas the nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.
Physical activity helps to maintain weight and produces endorphins for a better mental state. A combination of cardio-based workouts and strength training may improve the muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the circulating blood.
The best way to ensure that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily is to choose something you naturally enjoy and can incorporate effortlessly into your day. Your heart will instantly thank you for it!
Multiple factors are known to affect the cardiovascular system and contribute to the causes of cardiovascular dysfunction, including inflammation, oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage.
The mitochondria, also known as the powerhouse of the cells, protect the function of all organs, including the heart. When the mitochondria are not functioning in their optimal state, fatigue and weakness may develop and have a negative impact on the heart.
Ubiquinol, which is a naturally occurring antioxidant in the cells of our bodies, plays a vital role in supporting the heart. From the age of 30 our body’s ubiquinol levels start to decline and when this occurs, it is advisable to consult your healthcare practitioner about how ubiquinol supplementation may help.
There are many studies, and the most recent one from 2022 in the American Journal of Cardiology, found a strong correlation between lower ubiquinol levels and the risk of heart conditions in ageing populations.
“I urge you to have a lifestyle check consult this World Heart Day, to find balance between a nutrient-rich diet, healthy sleep levels, reduction in stress and an increased social connection,” Dr Walker says.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.