Heart Disease, or Cardiovascular Disease, is a collection of conditions where your blood vessels which lead to your heart have narrowed or become blocked by plaque. There are different kinds of heart diseases like blood vessel diseases, heart rhythm problems, and congenital defects, but generally, when we say heart disease in this context we’re really referring to Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).
When fat, cholesterol and other things build up in your arteries, this is Plaque buildup. As plaque builds up, your heart has a harder and harder time doing its job. Unfortunately, CVD is a problem for roughly 6.5 million Americans over the age of 20, and it’s a leading cause of death in developed countries.
Fortunately, there are 4 key ways to prevent heart disease. What’s more? These can also help to reverse the damage done by heart disease when followed with enough conviction.
If you have a history of high blood pressure or if you’ve recently developed high blood pressure, it’s time to get those numbers down. Ideally, your blood pressure should be 120 over 60. That top number is your systolic pressure, and the bottom is your diastolic pressure. Without getting into what these mean individually, the point is, 120/60 is your target.
Your heart is your most important muscle, and straining it isn’t healthy. What’s more, high blood pressure is one of the leading factors in developing Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X. While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and take steps to lower all of the risk factors of developing Metabolic Syndrome by:
• Working to shrink our waistlines to less than 35” for women and 40” for men
• Raising our good cholesterol and lowering our bad cholesterol levels
• Lowering our Triglyceride levels
• Lowering our blood sugar
• Increasing our activity by getting in more movement time during the day.
Your diet is the number one factor for heart disease (Plant-based diets that protect your heart, 2017), but for some reason, we play this down to dangerously low levels. What you eat fuels you. Your body literally moves from what you consume, but for some reason, we live in a fast-food society where people want to think that it’s okay to abuse their hearts because heart disease is “curable.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. bypass surgeries build in and add in bypassing arteries. They don’t clear out existing damage. Furthermore, mortality rates among heart patients who’ve had a bypass of some level raise to between 60% and 80% after only 8 to 10 years (Many good years after heart bypass surgery, but something happens after ten years, 2017).
Getting back to the point at hand: Your Diet. We don’t mean whatever weight loss, restricting, fad diet you’re currently subscribing to. We mean your general and collective lifelong eating patterns. Your diet doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s a culmination of your eating choices throughout your life. Studies have shown that a plant-based or even vegetarian diet is markedly healthier for your heart than a diet that consists mostly of animal proteins (Glynn, 2013).
Unhealthy habits like smoking greatly diminish your body’s ability to perform at heart-healthy levels. Furthermore, your overall physical condition will affect your heart. This is why trainers, gym rats, and health experts tell you to get enough cardio exercise, and why those treadmills are in your local or community gym. Leg day may be hard, but cardio is essential.
Nobody has ever said that getting enough couch time will improve heart health, and if they did, chances are they were being ironic. Sitting around on your couch, watching TV, sitting at your desk at work, and generally not moving is an unhealthy habit that needs to be broken as badly as smoking.
Generally speaking, alcohol consumption has been traditionally added in with unhealthy habits you should eliminate, but the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans point out that alcohol is okay in moderation. This doesn’t mean a delusional moderation. This means actual moderation.
Finally, it’s important to get enough. Get enough
• Cardio healthy exercise
• Time with your dog
Okay, so laughter and “time with your dog” may not be the official lines here, but happiness is as important to heart health as is sleep and exercise.