How can you decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease?

What is cardiovascular heart disease?

Cardiovascular heart disease (CVD) includes heart attack, stroke and other disorders of the heart and circulatory system. It is the biggest killer in the USA, and the second biggest killer in the UK (after Alzheimers/dementia). 

It is estimated that 80% of heart disease develops as a result of environmental and lifestyle influences, and so making positive lifestyle changes can prevent, and even reverse, most heart disease. The US DASH study of 36,000 women showed that a fibre-rich diet including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, combined with increased physical activity, reduced heart failure by 37%. Unfortunately blockages in arteries can start forming early in life, and disorders of the cardiovascular system are often far advanced before they become symptomatic, and prompt corrective action.

New research by pioneering doctors Aseem Malhotra, Malcolm Kendrick and Dean Ornish has cast doubt on whether blood cholesterol is a significant contributor to the development of  heart disease. They found no consistent correlation between lowering LDL cholesterol and reduction in heart attacks, or credible evidence that cholesterol-lowering statins have lowered death rates from heart disease on a population level. LDL cholesterol actually plays a crucial repair role in the immune system, and it seems likely that the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, or ‘good’ high density cholesterol, is a more accurate indicator of CVD risk.  

Malhotra hypothesises that a high sugar and high animal protein diet causes inflammation and an excess of insulin, damaging the inner lining of the arteries and attracting LDL cholesterol as a repair mechanism. Find out more in his book ‘A Statin-Free Life’ and his documentary film ‘The Big Fat Fix’

What are the lifestyle risk factors in CVD?

Controllable lifestyle risk factors for CVD include:

  • alcohol consumption – excessive alcohol consumption exacerbates inflammation and places pressure on the liver and contributes to the development of many chronic health conditions
  • smoking – depletes antioxidant defences and encourages clotting and atherosclerosis
  • diabetes – CVD is the principal cause of death among people with diabetes
  • high blood pressure or hypertension – one of the highest risk factors for CVD
  • poor nutrition – can have a profound effect on the heart, especially low levels of vitamin D 
  • overweight or obesity – adopting a low carbohydrate plant-based diet has been proven to be the most effective way to lose weight rapidly and healthily
  • physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyle – regular aerobic exercise slows down the ageing process of the heart, and reduces the risk of stroke – especially walking
  • depression and anxiety, poor stress management, insufficient relaxation and poor sleep – helpful interventions can include meditation, yoga and relaxation techniques such as mindfulness
  • loneliness – associated with an increased risk of CVD

There is much evidence of the close relationship between anxiety disorders and worry and coronary artery disease.

Chronic overproduction of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol negatively affect the cardiovascular system, and encourage unhealthy behaviours such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and drug and alcohol consumption.

What else can you do to reduce your risk of CVD?


  • Coenzyme Q10 – increases oxygenation of heart tissue
  • Fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids) – improves arterial health, lowers blood pressure, and has a positive effect on depression
  • Multivitamins – lowers risk of CVD
  • Selenium – destroys free radicals in the heart
  • Vitamin C – regulates blood pressure
  • Vitamin D – reduces heart disease risk

Herbal remedies

  • Cordyceps mushroom slows the heart rate, increases blood supply and lowers blood pressure
  • Gingko biloba can improve circulation, and increase oxygenation
  • Hawthorn increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure


  • Avoid processed foods including sodium, white flour and sugar to reduce inflammation
  • Avoid red meat to reduce inflammation and homocysteine levels
  • Increase intake of cold pressed olive oil which contains powerful antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory
  • Drink at least two litres of filtered or spring water daily
  • Increase intake of fresh fruit and green vegetables, nuts and whole grains, high in beneficial fibre
  • Lycopene from tomatoes reduces blood pressure
  • Onions and garlic reduce arterial plaque, protect blood vessel lining, and can help lower blood pressure

Healthright’s aim for 2022 is to help you improve your health naturally and safely.  

Come and ask us how.  We look forward to seeing you very soon.