Cardiovascular health entails your heart and the intricate system of blood vessels that carry blood through your body known as the circulatory system. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the top killer in the United States. It is of the utmost importance to make a conscious daily effort to keep your cardiovascular health in mind. With a few lifestyle changes, you can increase and maintain your cardiovascular health.
Stop smoking and cut back on alcohol. While occasional drinking is fine, drinking more than three alcoholic beverages a day can raise blood pressure and isn't good for your heart. Nicotine, a chemical in cigarettes, constricts the blood vessels, hindering blood flow and causing blood pressure to rise. Kicking these habits isn't easy, but the overall result will help to improve your cardiovascular health significantly.
Exercise regularly to help boost circulation and improve cholesterol levels. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise three to four days per week can help to improve your overall cardiovascular health as well as maintain it. If you have not previously had a physically active lifestyle, it's best to start off slowly with low-impact activities such as walking or yoga.
Cut back on sodium intake. Your body only needs about 500 mg of sodium daily so try opting for sodium-free seasonings and beware of hidden salts in snacks and fast food. Sodium helps to regulate fluids within the body. Too much salt can cause water retention.
Take steps to maintain a healthy blood pressure. If you don't have a blood pressure monitor at home, you can often find a blood pressure reader in the pharmacy section of a grocery store. Take you blood pressure daily for a week and record it. If the numbers read higher than 140/90 you should contact your doctor to schedule an appointment to discuss options to lower it.
Maintain a healthful diet by cutting back on fatty fried foods and foods high in saturated fats. Opt for green leafy vegetables and lean meats and low fat dairy products. Eat fish at least once a week for the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel, tuna, and salmon are just some of the types of fish that are considered fatty, meaning they are high in omega-3s.
Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to help you to make informed food choices. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. Your doctor can give you a good idea where to start and what will be best for you.
Is This an Emergency?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: High Blood Pressure: Tips to Stop the Silent Killer: Elijah Saunders, M.D.: December 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Exercise - Exercise's Effects on the Heart
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cardiovascular Health Goals: Adam Martinez, M.S. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.:
- Alt Med: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health
- American Heart Association: Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health Fact Sheet
- University of Illinios Extension: Dietary factors that increase blood cholesterol