Cardiovascular disease risk factors and treatment

Is cardiovascular disease treatment and prevention possible just by changing our diet?

Heart disease was the #1 cause of death in the U.S. in 2019 [1], so this time we’ll take a look at what are the main cardiovascular disease risk factors and how we can prevent and treat heart disease according to scientific research.

Types of cardiovascular disease:

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. They include:
1. coronary heart disease – a disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle;
2. cerebrovascular disease – a disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain;
3. peripheral arterial disease – a disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs;
4. rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria;
5. congenital heart disease – birth defects that affect the normal development and functioning of the heart caused by malformations of the heart structure from birth; and
6. deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.

Heart attacks and strokes are usually acute events and are mainly caused by a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the heart or brain.

Cardiovascular disease risk factors and causes

The most important risk factors of heart disease and stroke include:
1. unhealthy diet;
2. physical inactivity;
3. stress;
4. smoking;
5. excessive alcohol consumption;
6. obesity;
7. high blood pressure;
8. cholesterol.

Cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment

Meta-analyses shows that intake of plant protein was associated with a lower risk of all cause and cardiovascular disease mortality while intake of animal protein was not associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease [2].
Also, replacement of foods high in animal protein with plant protein sources could be associated with longevity [2].

According to scientific studies, a plant-based diet does indeed reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease [3] and in particular coronary heart disease [4].

That said, studies note that it is important to choose only certain plant-based foods [3,4].

For example, choose whole grains over processed grains, fresh fruits over fruit juices, and healthy and unsweetened beverages such as water, tea, and coffee over sweetened drinks. It is also recommended to reduce the consumption of potatoes, foods with sugar [3,4] and salt [5].

Meta-analyses of association of alcohol consumption with selected cardiovascular disease outcomes shows that light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of multiple cardiovascular outcomes [6].

Although, those who consumed >60 g/day were at a significantly increased risk of incident stroke compared with abstainers [6].

Meta-analyses of physical activity and risk of some diseases showed that a higher level of total physical activity is strongly associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and ischemic stroke, with most health gains occurring at a total activity level of 3000-4000 MET (metabolic equivalent) minutes/week.

In other words, 3000 MET minutes/week is approximately 750 minutes of brisk walking per week. Results suggest that total physical activity needs to be several times higher than the recommended minimum level of 600 MET minutes/week for larger reductions in the risk of these diseases [7].


So, what are the main cardiovascular disease risk factors and treatment? How to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease?

Well, main cardiovascular disease risk factors are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, stress, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Scientific research shows that cardiovascular disease can be prevented and treated by changing your diet from omnivorous to a plant-based one, reducing alcohol consumption to <60 g/day and doing at least 750 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking) per week.

Also, these recommendations can prevent some other most common diseases and even help us live 10+ years longer. Click here if you want to learn more about 4 simple steps that can help you live 10+ years longer.

P.S. If you want to get my science-based meal plans, recipes that can be cooked in 30 minutes or less and find out how science-based nutrition can help you improve your health and live longer then click here to learn more.

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