As you get older, your body undergoes a lot of changes. Some of these changes involve your cardiovascular system. Blood vessels become less flexible, and fatty deposits, or plaque, can build up along artery walls, limiting blood circulation to the heart.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death worldwide, taking approximately 17.9 million lives annually. Although aging is the top risk factor, other factors can contribute too.
Poor diet and exercise, smoking, high levels of stress are just some of the notable harmful habits that derange metabolism and change how cells and tissues work. Making better choices can do a lot for your health and longevity. Consider adopting the following practices for a heart-healthy lifestyle.
As exercise strengthens your muscular system, it also helps in making your heart muscle more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout your body. With each beat, the heart pushes out more blood. This mechanism allows your heart to beat slower and keep your blood pressure under control.
Although any amount of physical activity is better than nothing, aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise per week. You need exercise and physical activity to guard your heart against heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Maintain a Heart-Healthy Diet
Add a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein to your diet. Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in dietary fiber and low in calories and they can help reduce stress associated with our fast-paced finance-driven lives.
Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that help in blood regulation. Limit your saturated fat intakes, and avoid trans fat to reduce blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary heart disease. Choose lean meats with less than 10% fat.
Select low-fat dairy products, such as skim or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt, and cheese. You can also add eggs, fish (especially fatty, cold-water ones like salmon), skinless poultry, legumes, soybeans, and soy products.
Avoid or Quit Smoking
Avoiding tobacco and quitting smoking will benefit your heart and blood vessels. In many studies, the reduction of recurrent heart attack and cardiovascular death from quitting smoking has been 50% or more.
The nicotine in smoke reduces how much oxygen your heart gets. It also raises your blood pressure and speeds up your heart rate. When you smoke, there is a higher chance of blood clots that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
Manage Your Stress
The amount of stress you are experiencing and your reaction to them can lead to a wide variety of health problems such as heart disease. Stress may cause behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risks. These include high blood pressure, smoking, physical inactivity, and higher cholesterol levels due to overeating.
Ernesto L. Schiffrin, M.D., the Canada research chair in hypertension and vascular research at Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, stated that exercising, maintaining a positive attitude, not smoking, not drinking too much coffee, enjoying a healthy diet are good ways to deal with stress.
A healthy heart is central to overall good health. You are never too old or too young to begin taking good care of your heart. It is always the perfect time to swap good habits for bad to promote good health.
You are the one in direct control over many things that can influence your heart health. At any age, you can embrace a healthy lifestyle, be active, and make healthy choices. But the younger you begin taking care of your heart, the longer you can reap the benefits.