Role of Nutrition and Physical Exercise in the Prevention and Management of Valvular Heart Disease

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・2 Sources

Cardiovascular diseases are on the rise among the populace globally (Mendis & Chestnov, 2013) Unlike infectious diseases that could easily be treated using antibiotics, cardiovascular diseases are regarded as lifestyle diseases, therefore demanding a more comprehensive approach to their treatment and management. Valvular heart disease is one the most common cardiovascular diseases characterized by malfunction of at least one of the four main heart vulves. Due to the mortality, morbidity and economic burden of the disease to the population, there has been a greater focus on research on how to prevent and manage the disease. Two of the most common approaches are nutrition and physical exercise.  Cholestrol levels in the body, which originate from dietary foods are a great contributor to majority of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, lack of physical exercise causes fats to accumulate in one place and contribute to cardiovascular diseases.This research paper therefore focuses on evidence-based findings on the role of exercise and nutrition in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease.


In the 21 century, chronic diseases have become a priority area of focus of public health in many countries. This change in focus from infectious diseases to chronic illnesses has led to the adoption  of a new models for treating such diseases. While infectious diseases are treated using antibiotics, chronic diseases are largely considered lifestyle diseases and therefore requiring a new model in terms of treatment and management. Valvular heart disease is one of the cardiovascular diseases that has been on the rise internationally among other diseases such as arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction and Hypertension. Cardiovascular diseases can lead to permanent disability if not well treated and managed (Mendis & Chestnov, 2013). Unlike infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases have been attributed to lifestyle. As a result, the role of physical exercise and nutrition in reversing the condition are well document (Mendis & Chestnov, 2013) Valvular heart disease is caused by physical inactivity, increased body fat and hyperglycemia. The valvular heart disease is caused by damage in either the tricuspid, pulmonary, aortic or mitral vulves.  However, most reported cases of valvular heart disease are caused by damage of the mitral and aortic valves. These valves control the flow of blood between the upper chambers and the lower chambers of the heart.

Nutrition and physical exercise are some of the most used intervention measure to reverse cardiovascular diseases globally.  However, researchers differ in terms of the effectiveness of each method. For instance, nutritionists differ on the contribution of various nutrients to cardiovascular diseases. The aim of this research paper is therefore to provide a comprehensive review of literature on the role of nutrition and physical exercise in preventing and managing  valvular heart disease.


In order to achieve the research aim, a literature review approach was adopted.  A collection of articles from medical journals on the topics of heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases and nutrition and physical exercise were extracted and carefully filtered in order to obtain the most appropriate literature. The article contents were then examined in order to obtain the most relevant articles before the review process was conducted.

The researcher accessed BioMed peer review journal on 23 October 2017 to search for relevant medical journal.  The search string “role of nutrition and physical exercise on prevention of cardiovascular diseases” was used. A total of 63 results were obtained from which the researcher filtered the search depending on their relevance by examining the abstract sections. The researcher also obtained one journal article from PLO Medicine peer review journal which formed part of the reference for the current paper. The same such string was used to search the database on 23 October 2017.

Literature Review

Cardiovascular diseases are caused by damaged valves that affect the flow of blood in the heart. For instance, when the heart valve is not open wide enough, the flow of blood significantly affected, thus preventing certain parts of the body from receiving nutrients and oxygen. This narrowing of the valve is called stenosis. The heart valve may also cause blood to leak thus exerting pressure on the heart to use more force to pump blood to different parts of the body. Stenosis and valve leak may be caused by a number of factors resulting from both nutritional and physical exercise point of view. As a result, this section discusses the perspectives of different researchers on the role of nutrition and physical exercise on cardiovascular diseases.


According to Muna (2013), saturated dietary fat is one of the major causes of valvular heart disease. Results from experimental studies and epidemiological studies point out that cholesterol and low lipoproteins are critical risk factors. Physically active people are known to have high density loipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol which is considered appropriate for a healthy heart. Recent studies show that saturate d and unsaturated fatty acids affect the level of cholesterol in the body. Over consumption of saturated fatty acids is has been associated with High Density Lipoprotein (HDL). However, according to Muna (2013), not all saturated fatty acids affect the level of cholesterol in the body. For instance, in an experiment, Muna (2013), noted that stearic acids had a much lower impact on cholestral levels compared to oleic acid. On the other hand, Maggiorini (2010), argues that the collective effect of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in dietary products can have a significant impact on the level of cholestral in the body, thus causing valvular heart disease.

In a different study, Reddy and Satija (2010), noted that oxidation of mono-saturated and poly-saturated fatty acids during food processing and cooking causes oxidative stress on the heart. Additionally, deep fried foods, margarine and baked food is known to increase inflammatory and has been linked to increased cases of cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, foods such as butternuts, walnuts, fish oil and liver are rich in omega three which improves heart health.


The role of physical exercise in preventing various cardiovascular diseases has been documented by several researchers. Exercise is known to control body fat and body weight through fat distribution in the body, thus promoting fat loss. This enables the person exercising to have a lean body mass (Rich, 2014).  The distribution of body fat is critical to prevention of accumulation of fats around the heart and causing cardiovascular diseases. It has also been attributed to improved insulin resistance which prevents valvular heart disease. Another notable value of physical exercise is the fact that it improves blood pressure and control fatty acids in the body. Physical exercise is also know to improve the mood of the person exercising and generally improves their self esteem (Rich, 2014). As a result, it is essential in fighting stress, anxiety and depression.


The research findings from the various peer review articles reveal that nutrition and exercise are critical to helping prevent and reverse cardiovascular diseases. Consequently, it is essential to know the nutritional contents that a person is taking on a daily basis in order to ensure a healthy heart and prevent cardiovascular conditions. Additionally, the value of exercise in reducing cholesterol and improving blood circulation has been widely emphasized in literature. Further, physical exercise help boost the mood and mental state of the person undertaking the exercise, thus help in improving their confidence and fighting depression and stress. It is therefore recommended that one should design and undertake regular exercise in consultation with a exercise specialist in order to ensure that they have a healthy hear and prevent cardiovascular diseases.


Rich, M. (2014). Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Older Adults. Progress In Cardiovascular Diseases, 57(2), 168-175.

Maggiorini, M. (2010). Prevention and Treatment of High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema. Progress In Cardiovascular Diseases, 52(6), 500-506.

Reddy, K., & Satija, A. (2010). The Framingham Heart Study: Impact on the Prevention and Control of Cardiovascular Diseases in India. Progress In Cardiovascular Diseases, 53(1), 21-27.

Muna, W. (2013). Comprehensive Strategies for the Prevention and Control of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases in Africa: Future Directions. Progress In Cardiovascular Diseases, 56(3),

Mendis, S., & Chestnov, O. (2013). Costs, Benefits, and Effectiveness of Interventions for the Prevention, Treatment, and Control of Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes in Africa. Progress In Cardiovascular Diseases, 56(3), 314-321.

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