Cardiovascular Disease & Exercise

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major health issue affecting everyday Australians. The term CVD is an umbrella term used to describe many different conditions which most commonly include coronary heart disease (CHD), heart failure and stroke.

Latest statistics show that over 4 million, or 1 in 5, Australian adults have CVD. Over one quarter of this population contribute to 11% of all hospitalisations in the country. CVD was the underlying cause of 29% of Australian deaths in 2014, that is 45000 deaths.

Causes of CVD

The process of atherosclerosis is the main underlying cause of CVD. This condition involves build up abnormal fat deposits, cholesterol and other substances in the inner lining of arteries causing plaque growth leading to decreased artery elasticity. It is a complex and slow process that leads to atherosclerosis, however, it can be prevented in most cases. Risk factors for CVD are modifiable ie. lifestyle change. Such risk factors include prevention and management of diabetes, poor blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, poor nutrition, smoking and lack of exercise.

Impacts of CVD

So why is it a problem? Unfortunately, CVD cuts individuals lives short. Secondly, it is a giant burden on the Australian health care system with estimates of >12% (just under $8 million) of health care expenditure being attributed to CVD. The highest expenditure of any disease group in Australia is for this disease group.

The increasing incidence and prevalence of CVD, coupled with its socioeconomic impact, have highlighted the necessity of early intervention and effective strategies. One of the most important behavioural interventions that has major beneficial impact on the development of, symptomatic suffering or death caused by CVD is exercise. Exercise helps plays part in the puzzle of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It greatly manages and prevents the CVD related risk factors. There include dyslipidaemia, obesity, diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Even in the presence of well-established CVD risk factors, protection against CVD mortality is provided by the overall physiological adaptations that occur as a direct result of exercise.

Using Exercise To Improve Cardiac Output

Exercise training in people with CVD is generally safe, when supervised by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. General goals of exercise in the prevention of CVD is to improve cardiac output and improve musculoskeletal strength. This is achieved by performing both cardiovascular and resistance based exercise at appropriate intensities for optimal benefit. Exercise sessions should be performed minimum 3 days per week (but preferably most days) for at least 40 minutes at a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) level of 11-16 on a 6-20 scale (or 4-7/10).

Improvements in the human body gained from exercise to prevent and manage CVD may reduce mortality and hospitalisations. Exercise should be seen as a vital strategy to safely and effectively reduce the disease burden of CVD in Australia. And remember, Optimum Health Solutions delivers a program incorporating exercise and nutrition, empowering you to achieve great health needed for the rest of your life.

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