What you need to know about heart disease, rate variability, effect of exercise, nutrition and more
What is the most dreaded disease of the modern world? Most people would probably say: cancer. Yet, cancer is by far not the most prevalent cause of death. That place is actually firmly occupied by ischemic heart disease, according to statistics published by World Health Organization (WHO).
So it makes sense to try to do what you can to prevent being a part of this statistic. The article below explores a few potential causes of heart disease, discusses risk factors (including some of those that are not well known) and preventive measures (including some unconventional but very effective ones).
What makes your heart beat
On average, your heart pumps about 7,200 liters of blood per day. In an average lifetime, that equals about 2,628,000 liters (700,000 gallons) or about 2.5 billion contractions. That’s a massive amount of work!
As with any muscle, to maintain the strength and pace of these contractions, two variables must be present – the constant availability of fuel and proper functioning metabolism that utilizes this fuel to produce electric energy required to contract the muscle.
The heart is generally considered as a substrate omnivore with the capacity to oxidize fatty acids, carbohydrates, ketone bodies, lactate and even amino acids, the preferred substrate being fatty acids.
That said – energy deficit is a key contributor to heart failure. During high intensity exercise, for instance, the heart uses up to 90% of its oxidative capacity – so it has no excess capacity of energy generation over energy utilization.
Under these circumstances, it is very important that whatever oxidative capacity your heart does have for supplying energy to cover the immediate needs is utilized to the maximum – and that such capacity is increased to provide some buffer for more strenuous activities, should those take place. Ninety percent of the heart’s energy requirement is met by mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, which is finely tuned to energy need on a “pay as you go” basis. In fact, mitochondria (power plants of the cell) occupy more than 30% of the cardiac muscle cells’ volume.