Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death among middle-aged men and women. Studies confirm that heart disease may be developed early in life although its symptoms begin to surface only when the disease is at an advanced stage. By the time one experiences a heart attack, it may be too late to reverse heart disease. Cardiovascular support as a preventive measure is, therefore, crucial in the fight against heart disease.
People who suffer from heart disease appear to have common risk factors. The following factors are said to increase your chances of developing cardiovascular problems:
- Smoking and passive smoke. When you inhale cigarette smoke, you introduce toxins into your blood stream that may travel to your heart, lungs and other internal organs. These potentially dangerous substances may accumulate in your heart and prevent it from functioning properly.
- High blood pressure. High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder by pumping more blood than it can ordinarily handle. The extra pressure can inflict some damage to the inner lining of the arteries and cause fatty tissue to form in the damaged areas. In time, the fat deposit may accumulate and constrict the flow of blood and eventually cause heart failure.
- High blood cholesterol. When you regularly consume food that is high in saturated fat, the fat may travel to your arteries and block the flow of blood to your heart and cause heart failure.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical activity or exercise contributes to poor heart health because exercise burns fat and keeps it away from your heart while promoting blood circulation all over your body.
- Obesity. Being overweight contributes to heart disease because excess fat may block arteries and prevent blood flow to the heart and other vital organs of the body.
- Family history. If a member of your family suffered from cardiovascular disease, it is possible that you carry a gene that predisposes you to developing heart disease as well.
- Diabetes. Elevated sugar levels that characterize diabetes may lead to heart disease because sugar may increase the production of triglycerides in your blood. Triglycerides are substances found in fat cells that may lead to cardiovascular disease.
While you may not be able to do much about your family's history of heart disease, there are other risk factors that are within your control which may be eliminated by making lifestyle changes. The following measures are essential to cardiovascular support:
- Quit smoking. If smoking increases your chances of getting a heart attack, then kicking the habit will take you one step away from heart disease.
- Watch your fat intake. Not all fat are bad. While an excessive intake of deep fried food and animal fat may be bad for your heart, your body needs a moderate amount of Essential Fatty Acids or EFAs such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 for it to function smoothly. Limit your intake of foods that contain large amounts of cholesterol such as eggs, shellfish, and liver.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise promotes cardiovascular health because it burns fat, lowers your blood pressure and increases oxygen supply which your body needs to transport blood to your heart and to the other parts of your body. You need not exercise vigorously to keep your heart healthy. Moderate exercise of at least 20 to 30 minutes three times a week may already reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Running, jogging, aerobic dancing, biking, swimming, brisk walking, and climbing stairs are examples of enjoyable exercises that you can do.
- Watch your sugar and salt intake. Those with diabetes are at risk of developing heart disease. Don't wait for diabetes to strike. Avoid white sugar, white flour and refined food that contain high amounts of sugar to enhance their flavour. There is also a link between high sodium intake and high blood pressure. Avoid salty foods to keep your blood pressure down and avoid overworking your heart.