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What is Cardiovascular Disease and Can it be Prevented?

By Elisa - Jenny Craig

Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women?1

Find out if you’re at risk and how you can keep your heart healthy.


It’s scary but true: cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death for both women and men.1 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four deaths is related to cardiovascular disease.2 These are staggering statistics, but with proper monitoring and making certain lifestyle changes, you can help decrease your risk of CVD. 

What is Cardiovascular Disease?CVD_Main.jpg

Cardiovascular disease affects the heart and blood vessels, resulting in most often a heart attack or stroke. When plaque builds up on the walls of arteries, the blood vessels narrow and become stiff, a process called atherosclerosis. The American Heart Association explains that a heart attack happens when the blood vessels

going to the heart are blocked, and a stroke occurs when the blood vessels going to the brain are cut off.3

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

A few risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, such as family history, age, and gender (men are at greater risk, as are post-menopausal women). But, there are risk factors that are manageable, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, weight, physical activity, diabetes, HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.4 You can decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease by quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and getting enough exercise. If you are overweight, losing just 5 percent of your body weight lowers blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids (fats), and blood sugar–factors that affect heart disease.5


Although some risk factors can’t be controlled, making positive changes in your life moving forward could help you prevent your risk of developing CVD. Here’s a handful of ways you can implement change to your routine:

5 Ways to Manage Your Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Disease

Listen to your body’s natural rhythm

CVD_Rhythm.jpgYour body’s cells follow a natural circadian rhythm. Their metabolism process follows a predictable curve that matches the 12-hour light and dark periods during the day. Like the sun, your metabolism peaks toward mid-day and tapers off during the early evening. By following your natural circadian rhythm and consuming more calories when your metabolism is most active during the day, and then utilizing a 12 hour “rest” period where you stop consuming calories and your cells simply rejuvenate rather than focus on digestion, you can help restore your “good” cholesterol.9 Jenny Craig’s new Rapid Results program, integrates this scientific strategy to lose help you lose weight more effectively with your natural circadian rhythm.10 The Rapid Results menu plan has a nourishment period of 12 hours when your metabolism is most active, then a rest period of 12 hours when your cells need to rejuvenate.

Keep your blood vessels healthy

The best defense against heart disease is keeping your blood vessels strong, clear, and flexible as well as the endothelium healthy. What’s the endothelium? It’s a layer of cells that line the inside of blood vessels, that regulates blood flow and immune and inflammatory responses. When this lining is damaged, arteries can harden or become clogged. The good news–by monitoring LDL and HDL levels it’s possible to preserve the health of your blood vessels and heart.

Decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterolCVD_HeartHealthyFoods.jpg

By lowering the “bad” cholesterol (LDL, low-density lipoprotein) and increasing the “good” cholesterol (HDL, high-density lipoprotein), you’ll keep your arteries from clogging, as HDL actually clears LDL out of your cardiovascular system.6 Try limiting saturated fats found in red meat and full-fat dairy and consuming more monounsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, canola oil, nuts and seeds, in your diet.7 Eating more soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables and more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, almonds, flax seeds) will also CVD_Exercise.jpgraise HDL and keep your LDL in check.


Physical activity also helps to manage cholesterol.8 Getting active for at least 30 minutes per day, even in three 10 or two 15-minute bouts, is an easy way to boost HDL levels. Walking on your lunch break, playing tennis, swimming laps, taking the stairs, and even biking to work are options for fitting in a daily sweat session that doesn’t take up too much time.


Regulate your blood pressure

Hypertension is a warning sign of heart disease. Decrease your blood pressure by working out daily, reducing stress, and increasing omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. U.S. Dietary Guidelines also recommend limiting your sodium intake to below 2300 mg per day.11 To do this, limit canned foods and use herbs to spice up meals instead of high-sodium seasonings. And if you are on the Jenny Craig program, rest assured that the nutritionally-balanced menu plans are specifically designed to reflect the nutritional composition guidelines of multiple health organizations.

Eat your veggies and fruitsCVD_EatYourVeggies.jpg

It turns out your mom was right! Fruits and vegetables supply antioxidants to your body, which protect LDL from being “oxidized” and forming plaque on the interior walls of blood vessels.12 Powerful antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, zinc, copper, and beta-carotene, can be found in whole grain foods and, of course, colorful fruits and vegetables. Make it easy by adding a serving of fruit to your breakfast and start your lunch with a garden salad.


If you are overweight, dropping excess pounds can help reduce your risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease. If you’re ready to start forming healthier eating habits and follow a program that will help you reach your weight loss goals, contact us for your free appointment today.




[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

[2] “Heart Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Nov. 2017, www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.

[3] What is Cardiovascular Disease?, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/What-is-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_301852_Article.jsp#.Wo3-O2sVipo.

[4] “Risk factors.” World Heart Federation, www.world-heart-federation.org/resources/risk-factors/.

[5] https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/health-benefits-losing-just-5-percent-your-body-weight-ncna836056

[6] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/HDLLDLTriglycerides/HDL-Good-LDL-Bad-Cholesterol-and-Triglycerides_UCM_305561_Article.jsp

[7] “How to Lower Blood Pressure.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/how-to-lower-blood-pressure#2.

[8] “Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 June 2015, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935?pg=1

[9] Chaix, A., & Zarrinpar, A. (2015). The effects of time-restricted feeding on lipid metabolism and adiposity. Adipocyte, 4(4), 319–324. http://doi.org/10.1080/21623945.2015.1025184

[10] Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 6, 14 June 2016, pp. 1048–1059., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001. 

[11] Get the Facts: Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oct. 2017, www.cdc.gov/salt/pdfs/sodium_dietary_guidelines.pdf.

[12] Forman, Adrienne. “Can vitamins lower cholesterol?” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 17 Apr. 2007, health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/vitamin-supplements/can-vitamins-lower-cholesterol1.htm.

Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig

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