Understanding cardiovascular disease and making your heart happy

posted in: Wellness | 0

We’ve all heard the term “cardiovascular disease” but what does it actually mean? And how can you avoid it? We have answers!

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is another term for heart disease. “Cardio” means heart, and “vascular” refers to the blood vessels, also known as your circulatory system. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD) are both used to describe health issues with the heart and particularly the arteries in the body, which supply vital oxygen to keep tissues alive and healthy.

Cardiovascular disease can sometimes occur due to genetics, infection or age, but in many cases, it is the result of a certain lifestyle. Sometimes choices made when we were younger can catch up with us and lead to heart health issues.

For example, smoking tobacco, being overweight, eating too many fatty foods, and too much dietary cholesterol can all put wear and tear on our bodies and lead to serious heart health issues. So too can chronic inflammation, that is, persistent irritation in the body, especially the blood vessels, which can be due to our diet and stress levels.

People who adopt an anti-inflammatory diet will often find it helps their heart health, as well. If they also take steps to lower their stress, they can often reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

What can you do to lower your risks? These three tips can make a huge difference.

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Photo: fauxto_digit/flickr

1. Exercise more

Aerobics refers to working out your heart by elevating its rate enough to work the muscle to keep it healthy. Aim for 250 minutes per week of brisk walking, or try swimming, dancing or low impact aerobics. Add strength training such as yoga and light weights and you will develop lean muscle, which will boost your metabolism. All exercise burns calories.

2. Get your weight under control

Exercising more will help you get your weight under control. So too will making smart food choices. Count calories to make sure you are not overeating. Counting carbs can also help with rapid weight loss, though it is a hard eating lifestyle to maintain long-term.

3. Deal with high blood pressure

High blood pressure (HBP) puts a lot of strain on the heart and blood vessels. Exercising and losing weight can help lower it naturally.

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer in the US, so if you have been told by your doctor that you have problems, or are at risk, modify your lifestyle factors and see what a difference it can make to your health.