Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, but the good news is that it’s largely preventable. By making some lifestyle changes — like eating a healthy diet, getting better sleep, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking — you can significantly improve your heart health.

To help you on this journey, Oura now offers two powerful heart health features: Cardio Capacity and Cardiovascular Age. These tools allow you to monitor and understand your heart health over time, giving you the insights you need to make positive changes and prevent cardiovascular events.

Below, explore how these new features can support your efforts to maintain a healthy heart and live a longer, healthier life.

What Is Cardiovascular Health? 

Your cardiovascular health refers to the overall well-being of your heart and blood vessels, including heart function, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar regulation, and vascular integrity.

Maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system is crucial for long-term health. Good cardiovascular health can help reduce the risk of diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke, slow cognitive decline, and increase life expectancy.

Common indicators of cardiovascular health include office or lab-based tests such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as metrics Oura currently tracks, such as resting heart rate and heart rate variability. 

Member Tip: Oura’s new Cardiovascular Age and Cardio Capacity (VO2 max) features integrate pulse wave velocity and other measurements to provide even further insights into the state of your heart health.  

What Increases Your Cardiovascular Disease Risk? 

Knowledge is power, and it’s important to understand the risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

While some risk factors, such as gender or age aren’t modifiable, others, like lifestyle habits, are well within your control — which we’ll cover in more detail. 

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol consumption 
  • Unhealthy diet
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle 
  • High stress 
  • Poor dental health 
  • Increasing age
  • Male gender

Can You Prevent Cardiovascular Disease?

Here’s the good news: Research shows that lifestyle changes can have a “profound impact” on your cardiovascular health. So, if you have any habits that increase your risk, now is a great time to make a change. 

By adopting healthier habits, you can enhance the health of your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and circulation, gradually reducing your risk of CVD. With Oura, you can easily monitor these positive changes over time.

Live healthier, longer with Oura's new heart health features.
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8 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Cardiovascular Health 

How to improve your cardiovascular health
You’re largely in control of your heart health, which can be significantly improved through lifestyle changes.

1. Eat a Mediterranean-style diet

A traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, fish, and healthy fats, is optimal for reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. A 2007 study found that people following this diet had a 50 to 70% lower risk of recurrent heart disease.

Additionally, avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, such as soda, french fries, burgers, donuts, and fruit juice. Studies have shown these types of foods can increase arterial stiffness and CVD risk.

2. Limit alcohol 

While some research suggests that low to moderate alcohol consumption may increase longevity, most experts advise against regular drinking for cardiovascular health. Alcohol use is linked to hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiomyopathy. 

Binge drinking, typically defined as consuming five or more drinks in two hours for men or four or more drinks for women, is particularly harmful. Research has shown it increases the risk for high blood pressure, higher body mass index, elevated triglyceride levels, and inflammatory markers.

3. Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity enhances cardiovascular health by improving blood circulation, strengthening the heart muscle, and reducing arterial stiffness. Exercise also improves “endothelial function,” or the performance of the inner lining of the blood vessels, which contributes to arterial flexibility and a lower CVD risk. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise per week.

Member Tip: Oura automatically and accurately detects your activity, helping you account for all of your movement during the day. (Yes, housework counts!) 

4. Monitor current health conditions

Keep an eye on your health metrics such as resting heart rate, heart rate variability, cholesterol levels, and heart rhythm, some of which you can do with a wearable such as Oura Ring as well as by staying on top of your doctor’s visits. Early treatment of preexisting conditions, like sleep apnea, is crucial for reducing CVD risk.

Member Tip: While Oura cannot diagnose sleep apnea, it does provide helpful insights into potential indications of sleep apnea, such as low blood oxygen levels and breathing disturbances. 

5. Manage stress 

Chronic stress takes a toll on your heart, increasing your CVD risk. Manage stress with habits like meditation, breathing exercises, exercise, sleeping well, spending time in nature, and social connections. 

Plus, studies show that people with positive mental health have a lower risk of CVD.

Member Tip: Use Oura’s Daytime Stress feature to monitor your daily stress levels — if you notice a stress peak, try a guided meditation or breathing e xercise on the Oura App under Explore content to ease your mind.

6. Maintain a healthy weight 

Obesity significantly raises CVD risk by causing fatty deposits in arteries and increasing heart and organ strain. It often correlates with other risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, and arterial stiffness. Maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise, a calorie-controlled diet, reduced processed foods and alcohol, good sleep, and checking for hormonal issues with a healthcare provider. 

7. Prioritize sleep

During sleep, the body undergoes a series of restorative processes that regulate blood pressure and blood sugar and reduce stress hormones and inflammation, all of which contribute to heart health.

In fact, studies show that even just one night of sleep deprivation can increase arterial stiffness in healthy adults, emphasizing the importance of sleep for heart health.  

Member Tip: Oura helps you find your ideal bedtime based on your chronotype, aiding in creating a personalized sleep routine.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight

8. Quit smoking

Smoking is a major CVD risk factor. Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke, such as carbon monoxide and nicotine, damage the cardiovascular system. Fortunately, your body — specifically your lungs, heart, and blood vessels — will begin to heal itself after you quit smoking. After one year smoke-free, your risk of heart attack lowers by half. 

RELATED: How To Improve Your HRV (Heart Rate Variability)