Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, is a broad term used to describe the many diseases that can affect the cardiovascular system including diseases of the valves of the heart, diseases of the heart muscle and diseases of the arteries and veins.

The most common forms of heart disease are:

1. Hypertension (high blood pressure)

2. Coronary occlusion (heart attack)

3. Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

4. Atherosclerosis (deposits of fat and cholesterol gathering on the arterial walls) also known as plaque.

5. Angina pectoris (chest or arm pain)

6. Stroke (when a blood vessel bursts or a blood clot blocks an artery).

The main risk factors for cardiovascular heart disease are as follows:

1. High blood pressure

2. Cigarette smoking

3. High cholesterol levels (diet)

4. Physical inactivity

5. Obesity

6. Stress

Exercise benefits people with heart disease. It reduces blood pressure and heart rate. Regular exercise reduces the risk of further progression of heart disease by reducing obesity and increasing the strength of the heart muscle.

My guidelines for a structured exercise programme are as follows:

  • Frequency of exercise 3-5 days per week
  • Intensity of exercise at the beginning should be a low pace gradually increasing to a rate of 60-85% maximum heart rate.
  • Time spent on an exercise sessions should gradually be increased to 30-60 minutes.
  • The exercise programme should include a light warm-up and cool down for 5-10 minutes including some mobility movements, aerobic exercise, resistance training (low weights/high reps) and finish with a flexibility programme.

Always consult your GP or a doctor before starting a new fitness programme.