Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Thus, it is critical to take steps to support your heart health, not just to avoid cardiovascular issues, but to promote longevity and overall wellness.
Why it’s Important to Support Your Heart
A healthy heart is central to your overall health. The earlier you start to embrace healthy lifestyle choices to support your heart, the longer you can reap the benefits.
A lack of cardiovascular support can lead to heart disease, which is responsible for one in two deaths in the United States.
Cardiovascular disease is defined as “heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots.”
It is important to note that there is a significant chance that cardiovascular disease can lead to a heart attack or stroke when left unaddressed.
A heart attack (also called a myocardial infarction), occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. This blockage is due to a buildup of plaque (fat and cholesterol) in the arteries. During a heart attack, part of the heart muscle is damaged and can even be destroyed.
With a stroke, the blockage actually occurs in the brain, more specifically, the blood supply to the brain is cut off. This can occur when a vein is blocked or when it bursts. As a result, the delivery of oxygen to the brain is cut off, which causes brain cells to die.
Know the Risk Factors
There are a variety of risk factors for heart disease, which is part of the reason that cardiovascular issues are so prevalent.
Risk factors include:
- High cholesterol (increases strain on vascular system)
- Smoking (increases plaque buildup in arteries)
- Alcohol consumption (increases blood pressure)
- Obesity (promotes inflammation throughout the body)
- Long-term poor diet (can lead to chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, and more)
- Lack of exercise (negatively impacts vascular health as well as multiple bodily systems)
- Over the age of 55 for women or over the age of 45 for men (cardiovascular problems are more likely with age-related decline)
- Family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, or potentially other cardiovascular conditions
Supporting Your Heart
Adjust Your Diet
A long-term, well-balanced diet is one of the best ways to fuel a healthy heart.
Heart-healthy foods include dark green vegetables, antioxidant-rich fruits, whole grains, and foods containing omega-3s such as wild-caught salmon.
Additionally, when considering your heart, incorporate healthy fats into your diet. “Healthy” fats are characterized by supporting healthy cholesterol levels (HDL) whereas “unhealthy” fats or trans fats promote bad cholesterol (LDL). Trans fats can be found in packaged and processed foods.
General tip: A colorful plate full of red, orange, yellow, and green unprocessed foods is a heart-supporting meal as it contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to build and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Therefore, it is also advisable to cut down on processed foods, fried foods, and refined sugar as they promote an inflammatory response and promote bad cholesterol. It is also best to limit your intake of soda and energy drinks in order to optimize your heart health.
Additionally, if you’re interested in supporting your heart through supplementation, consider HoltraCeuticals’ high-quality, doctor-formulated Heart Solution + made with all-natural ingredients.
Engaging in regular physical exercise can help reduce your risk of developing a cardiovascular condition. Long-term, regular physical activity is associated with lowering blood pressure levels, lowering cholesterol levels, and a variety of other health benefits.
When starting an exercise routine, it is best to set realistic goals and work your way up to the recommended 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. This can consist of a brisk walk or even swimming, whatever aerobic activity that suits your lifestyle.
It is also important to note that adults who sit less throughout the day have a lower risk of early death, particularly from heart disease. So try to get up and walk around once every hour or so while you’re working, your heart will thank you in the long run.
Quit Smoking and Drinking
It’s well known and well documented that smoking increases your risk of numerous conditions including cancer, lung problems, and heart disease. This is because it damages the lining of your arteries.
Eliminating the use of cigarettes can be difficult. If you’re finding it hard to quit, support is available. Call Quitline on 137.848. You can also talk to your doctor about options that may be right for you. The consumption of alcohol also takes a significant toll on your health and can cause liver problems, thyroid dysfunction, as well as heart conditions. Additionally, alcohol can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure and heart rate, which in the long run can lead to increased heart rate, high blood pressure, weakened heart muscle, and irregular heartbeat.
An occasional drink won’t necessarily take a toll on your health, but it is important to eliminate long-term, regular consumption of alcohol.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
Interestingly, dental health is a good indication of heart health. This is because those who have gum disease (periodontal disease) often have the same risk factors as heart disease. Research indicates this may be due to the fact that bacteria present in the mouth can be transported by the bloodstream and cause the inflammation of blood vessels, which in turn, increases your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Take Time To Relax
Engaging in stress-relieving activities can help decrease your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Stress is linked to chronic inflammation, which strains multiple bodily systems and can negatively impact heart health.
Thus, don’t forget to take time out of your day to unwind and relax. Here are a couple of resources on how to de-stress effectively:
5 Effects of Stress on the Mind and Body + 10 Tips to Reduce Stress
The Mental Health Day You Deserve
How to Naturally Boost Serotonin
Check Your Testosterone Levels
It is well-documented that men have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality when compared to women. Recent research suggests that this is likely due to the gender-specific qualities of hormones such as testosterone. Numerous studies have found that optimal testosterone levels may be a leading factor in maintaining male longevity, physical ability, and well-being.
Research presented in 2007 found that among nearly 800 men, aged 50-91, taking part in the study, nearly one-third presented suboptimal blood levels of testosterone. Of this sub-group, 33 percent had an increased risk of death within the next 18 years in comparison to men with higher testosterone levels. This was true regardless of lifestyle factors including smoking, drinking, physical fitness, or pre-existing disease and conditions. Significant numbers such as these are difficult to ignore when discussing male mortality.
Furthermore, circulating testosterone levels have been shown to have a significant impact on male physiology and neurology. In a study presented in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, it was found that participants with a greater prevalence of testosterone in their system tested more effectively in the fields of memory, reflex, awareness, and physical ability when compared to those with lower testosterone levels. Men diagnosed as hypogonadal (low testosterone) showed notably lower scores in the same categories. The researchers suggested that a greater concentration of free testosterone in one’s system may abate the degradative process, particularly regarding cognitive ability, associated with male aging.
Thus, after the age of 30, it is best for men to have their testosterone levels checked regularly.
Talk To Your Doctor
Family history is also important to consider when addressing your heart health. Speaking with your doctor to understand your specific combination of genetic and lifestyle risk factors can help you develop a detailed plan to support and maintain a healthy heart.
If you suffer from cardiovascular problems or are at risk of developing such issues but aren’t getting the help you need, contact Holtorf Medical Group today. Our reliable team of doctors will not just treat your symptoms, but address the underlying root cause.