The term “Cardiovascular health” is often used interchangeably with “Heart health.”
Cardio- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “heart.” It is used in various medical and scientific terms. Cardio- originated from the Greek kardía, meaning “heart.” Actually, the Greek kardía and the English word heart are related.
And vascular means the blood vessels that work in conjunction with the heart’s rhythm – think of a harmonious orchestra.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO): “Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, heart valve complication, and other heart conditions are the leading cause of death globally – pause – a staggering number of about 17.9 million lives each year.”
Heart disease may be the No. 1 killer (especially for women), but six basic lifestyle choices can help you control, avoid, or even reverse your heart attack and stroke risk.
But this article is not only about primordial prevention of heart disease, i.e., taking care from the beginning so that you never run the risk of heart disease. It also covers others experiencing heart disease or another form of heart disease or have already suffered a heart attack, stroke.
Let’s review the steps recommended by doctors so you can take preventive measures to halt the progression of heart disease, prevent another life-threatening cardiac event, and prevent early death.
According to Fitness Buffhq, following a healthy lifestyle can contribute a lot to helping prevent or slow the progression of heart disease. Depending on your specific needs, you may require strategies to manage blood pressure, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, a healthy-eating plan, a personalized exercise regime, stress management techniques, and advice about quitting smoking.
Six Strategies for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
Upgrade Your Eating Habits Nutrition
Let us share with you a pro-tip here. To accomplish a balanced, healthy food intake, fill a minimum of two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains, one-third or less with lean protein — like fish, skinless poultry, or plant proteins, and low-fat or no-fat dairy. Once in a while, you may have a cheat meal or binge on rare occasions after a few weeks is okay. But otherwise, you should maintain a lifelong lifestyle of including the healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients you require in your diet. Also, either avoid or reduce your consumption of added sugars, highly processed carbs, full-fat dairy, saturated fats, and trans fats in fast foods, baked goods, and snacks. These foods are the ones that promote chronic inflammation within blood vessels, a first step leading to cardiovascular disease.
You don’t have to give up meat entirely while opting for more plant-based foods. Fitness Buffhq says: Let the vegetables play the lead role in your meal and meats be the supporting characters. Finally, eat a lot of colors; that’s nature’s way of making sure you get all of the vitamins and minerals.
Movement and Burning Calories Are Everything
If you want to cut down on the risk of heart disease or speed up the recovery from a heart attack or stroke – get moving and exercising, provided your doctor has warned you not to do so. Heart-harming conditions like increased bad cholesterol (LDL) level, high blood pressure, and diabetes set in when you adopt a sedentary lifestyle, for example, sitting for prolonged hours glued to your digital devices, whether for play or work. There are many other ways to get enough physical activity regularly for those who don’t like to exercise. American Heart Association recommends at least a total of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, like walking at a brisk pace, or a total of 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity.
Stress comes in several forms in the current urban lifestyle. The human brain has not yet evolved to a stage for handling the complexities of the modern-era lifestyle. As a result, your heart health is compromised when chronic stress upsets your life balance and duties pile on. That will leave you with the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) raised by about 21 percent. There are many ways to keep the stress at bay, such as engaging in more physical activities, meditating or doing breathing exercises once a day, sleeping seven to eight hours a day, eating a noninflammatory diet, staying in contact with friends and family and acting generously toward others.
Know your mind and body’s biological rhythm. Are you an early morning lark or a nighttime owl? Broken sleep schedules can expose you to an elevated risk for depression, heart-damaging obesity, and diabetes, as well as increased heart attack and stroke. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a condition that results in snoring, stopping breathing during sleep, and gasping for air, leaves you too tired in the daytime to do any meaningful work; moreover, it can also be life-threatening. When you stop breathing during sleep, your blood oxygen levels drop, which over time puts stress on your lungs and heart.
Don’t ignore if you feel fatigued every morning or when your family members say that you snore and snort or stop breathing while you’re asleep. Contact a sleep disorder center for proper examination. Mainly weight loss, giving up alcohol, using a continuous positive airway pressure device or other appliance, such as the adaptive servo-ventilation system, and medications can provide relief from OSA.
Smoking (including weed ) burns our lungs. Cigarette tobacco smoke contains thousands of carcinogenic chemicals that get stuffed into our lungs and body systems. Smoking can double or quadruple our risk of heart disease and stroke — and for women, it is especially very risky. Women who smoke have a twenty-five percent greater risk of developing heart disease than men who smoke.
In addition, smoking marijuana or cannabinoids (the psychoactive part of marijuana) increases the resting heart rate, dilates blood vessels, and makes the heart work harder, raising the risk of having a heart attack during the hour after smoking marijuana. Get professional help from your health care team and quit smoking TODAY AND NOW.
Get Tested for Heart Disease Regularly
The best approach to not suffering from any cardiovascular disease is prevention. The good news is that following a healthy lifestyle and getting a few periodic tests will keep you on the right track. The numbers you need to monitor are your blood pressure, lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides), and blood glucose.
The desirable range for these tests should be in:
Blood pressure: Less than 120/80 mmHg
Fasting Glucose Level: Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
LDL cholesterol: Less than 100mg/dL; (if you have coronary artery disease – CAD below 70mg/dl
HDL: More than 50 mg/dL in men and 60 mg/dL for women;
Triglycerides: Below 150 mg/dL
Make all the healthy lifestyle changes, live the heart-healthy way, and have experts guide you. Whereas healthy lifestyle steps to improve heart health are highly beneficial — but sometimes are not enough, and it is better to stay connected to your doctor.
Disclaimer: Suggestions and tips mentioned above are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before making any changes to your diet or starting any fitness program.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”