Heart HealthBackground Info on the Heart

To continuously pump blood through the arteries and veins (blood vessels that make up the circulatory system) to supply tissues and organs with oxygenated blood and nutrients while eliminating toxins and carbon dioxide from the body.

Blood Pressure & Heart Rate

  • BP – pressure of circulating blood on the walls of the arteries and veins (blood vessels)
  • HR – how many times your heart contracts (beats) per minute

Basic Anatomy of the Heart

  • Diagram of the human heartAorta – largest artery = supplies major organs with blood
  • SA node (sinoatrial node - pacemaker) = controls heart rate
  • AV node (atrioventricular node) = between atria and ventricles = slows electrical current from atrium to ventricle
  • Atriums = chambers leading to and pumping blood into the ventricles
  • Ventricles = chambers – right ventricle pumps blood into the lungs via the pulmonary artery, left ventricle pumps blood to the circulatory system via the aorta
  • Valves = prevent backflow from ventricles to atriums to keep blood continuously pumping:
    • Bicuspid (mitral) valve – between left atrium and left ventricle
    • Tricuspid valve – between right atrium and right ventricle

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

  • Uncontrollable – gender, age, family history
  • Controllable – physical inactivity, smoking, overweight/obesity, high BP, high cholesterol
  • Diabetes - 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke:
    • When you have diabetes, your body is not properly producing enough insulin to break down sugars and starches [4]
    • Developing cardiovascular disease with diabetes has a worse prognosis than without diabetes, a major risk factor for CVD [5]

Heart Attack

The normal flow of blood to a part of the heart is disrupted (blocked) and the heart isn’t receiving an adequate oxygen supply. It is important to restore the blood flow quickly, so that section of the heart doesn’t die and lead to further complications (person is still alive, heart is beating, blood is flowing).

Signs & Symptoms
  • Chest discomfort (pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness) [most common]
  • Upper body discomfort (neck, jaw, shoulder, arms, back)
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness
Symptoms are not always sudden or severe, some people don’t experience the most common symptoms, some  experience only one symptom and some experience multiple symptoms. Most heart attacks are caused by atherosclerosis – build up of plaque on the inside wall of an artery:
  • Causing narrowing of the artery and eventually blockage
  • May lead to blood clots

Eat a heart-healthy dietTreatments for Heart Attacks

  • Prevention is the best treatment!
  • Exercise – improves heart function, lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol, increases energy - 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day is suggested
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, low in fat, cholesterol & salt, high in fruits, vegetables, grains & fiber (helps lower BP)- order a salad instead of fries
  • Control blood pressure
  • Increase physical activity
  • Control blood cholesterol - reduce levels of triglycerides, choose healthier fats:
    • Lipoprotein = structures that carry cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, and fat-soluble vitamins around the bloodstream
    • LDL – low density lipoprotein – bad cholesterol
    • HDL – high density lipoprotein – good cholesterol
  • Stress Management:
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
  • Quit smoking!:
    • Lowers risk of heart attack
    • Can prevent arteries from hardening and restricting blood flow to the heart due to the chemical ingredients in cigarettes
Cardiac Arrest = Heart stops beating, no blood flow, person unresponsive, dying [3]

Angina = medical term for chest pain (not a heart attack, but a warning sign) [3]

Coronary Artery Disease

This is a build up of plaque in the coronary arteries, the vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. Blockage results in a decreased oxygen and nutrient supply which leads to chest pain or heart attack.

How can SHAPE help?

Book with one of our professional trainers for personal training sessions as well as personalized exercise programs!
  • Will help to lower blood pressure (BP)
  • Will help decrease stress levels
  • Will keep you active and fit!
Consult with our Naturopathic Doctor to help change and improve your health!
  • Will provide you with clinical nutrition
  • Will provide physical treatments
  • Will provide lifestyle counselling
  • Will keep you on track to living a healthier lifestyle


Things to AVOID:
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Unhealthy diet
Things to FOCUS ON:
  • Exercising
  • Healthy, balanced diet
  • Stress management


  1. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/hp.asp
  2. http://cookspharmacy.com/wp-content/file/GenHealth_HeartHealthy.pdf
  3. http://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/conditions/heart-attack
  4. http://www.diabetes.org
  5. http://kingmed.info/media/recommendation/1/187.pdf


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SHAPE Health & Wellness Centre

35 Coldwater Rd.
Toronto ON M3B1Y8

CALL: 416.929.8444

Call SHAPE Today
Mon. - Thurs. 6am - 9pm
Fri. 6am - 6pm
Sat. 8am - 6pm
Sun. 9am - 4pm