More than 600,000 people lose their lives to heart disease each year in the United States. You may be wondering if there is any way to avoid becoming a part of this statistic. While some heart conditions are genetic or otherwise unavoidable, there are a few steps that you can take on your own to gain some control over your cardiovascular health. Even the simplest of lifestyle changes can pack a punch when it comes to improving your heart health. If you want to improve your cardiovascular health but you aren't sure how, here are some suggestions to get you started.
What to Eliminate
Of the many risks to your heart health, some of the biggest ones are choices you make on your own. If you're serious about reducing your risk of cardiac problems, here are a couple of good places to start.
Kick the Habit
If you're a smoker, you're automatically increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. The nicotine in cigarette smoke will actually reduce the amount of oxygen getting to your heart, and smoking can increase your blood pressure. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart – not to mention your lungs.
Shed Some Weight
Excess body weight causes an added burden for your blood vessels, lungs and heart. If you can drop those extra pounds, your cardiovascular system won't have to work as hard to get blood where it needs to be in your body. Consider working with a fitness specialist to develop a workout plan that will help you. If you're new to working out, you don't want to jump in feet-first. Ease into it with the expertise of a professional.
What to Add
As you are eliminating the cigarettes and excess weight from your life, it's time to take a proactive stance on replacing them with positive things. Turn your former smoke breaks into an opportunity to get on your feet. Make them your activity breaks instead. The more active you are, the more you move, the stronger your cardiovascular system will be. Your body needs physical activity, especially for your heart.
When you work hard to lose that extra weight, the last thing you want is your food choices working against you. As you're shedding pounds, add healthier foods to your diet. Start making proteins a side dish in your meals instead of the focal point. Cover most of your plate with fruits and vegetables, then opt for a small carbohydrate made from whole grains and a lean protein source as side dishes. Plan ahead with heart-healthy snacks, like fresh produce, nuts and sunflower seeds.
Other Health Considerations
Your diet and tobacco habits aren't the only things that contribute to your heart health. You'll also want to talk with your doctor about other health conditions that can affect your cardiovascular system.
Diabetics are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease for many reasons, not the least of which is persistent high blood sugar readings. Make sure that you're making a conscious effort to maintain control over your blood sugar if you're diabetic – your heart could depend on it.
High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for cardiac problems. By striving to keep your blood pressure in the normal range, you'll help reduce the stress that your heart, kidneys and arteries feel. This will help you stay healthier and reduce the wear and tear on your cardiovascular system.
High cholesterol levels can contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries. Over time, this can actually clog your arteries and cause heart disease. Work with your doctor to keep your cholesterol levels within the healthy range so that you're not putting undue stress on your arteries.
For people with a solid understanding of health and nutrition, these core lifestyle changes and healthcare decisions can come naturally. For those who haven't had as much exposure to these life lessons, knowing how to protect your heart can be baffling. With the information here, you can take charge of your health. If you have concerns about your heart, consult a cardiologist right away for an evaluation.
For more information, contact a local health center like ICE, Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence.
As an adult in my 50s, I find that my body isn't as strong as it used to be. But I don't let that stop me from enjoying life! In fact, I make every effort to get the treatments I need from my doctor to improve my health. I know that I'm not a senior yet, but I do all I can to prevent the health problems that affect that age group. Because of this, I put together a health blog for people over age 50. My blog isn't a review of what you can easily find on the Internet. It's a plethora of unique information designed to help you find the services you need fast. What my blog doesn't do is tell you what to do for your health. Instead, it offers guidance and options. Please, enjoy the blog and happy reading.