Choose behaviors that strengthen your cardiovascular fitness
As winter tends to be a slow, sedentary season, it’s a great time to think about improving heart health. Following your doctor’s recommendations about diet, activity and controlling cholesterol can set the stage for healthy blood flow.
MOVE: “Activity, such as walking 30 minutes five times per week, may decrease cholesterol levels,” says cardiologist Somasekhara Balla, MD, a member of the heart and vascular care staff at Halifax Regional. “It may also lower blood pressure, which is a high risk factor for heart problems Previously, a blood pressure reading of 130/80 was considered normal, but now health experts consider the blood pressure target to be under 120/80.
DIET: In addition to adding movement to every day, you should be committed to a heart-healthy diet. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish make excellent choices. “Taste is important,” Dr. Balla
notes. “Try to find heart-healthy food choices that have good flavors.”
GOOD PRACTICE: With your activity level and diet on the straight and narrow, there are other steps you can take for a healthy heart. Weight lifting, slow deep breathing and washing your hands often to protect from flu and pneumonia are excellent additions to your plan. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any strenuous exercises.
DESTRESS: “Stress is a factor that we often don’t think about, but chronic stress can have a negative impact on our hearts,” Dr. Balla says. “Exercising and getting enough sleep each night can help to reduce the ill effects of stress.” Changing your lifestyle is not something you should try to do overnight. For long-term success, make small changes and give them time to become
habits. Your heart and loved ones will thank you for it.
Hypertension is the clinical term for high blood pressure and is sometimes known as the “silent killer.” It most often does not have any symptoms and can cause damage for years before
being discovered. Here is more about the disease:
Q: HOW DOES HYPERTENSION AFFECT BLOOD VESSELS?
Blood flows through miles of flexible arteries that are smooth on the inside to help blood flow easily. High blood pressure can damage the cells that make up the lining, causing dietary fats to collect in the arteries and narrowing the vessels.
Q: WHAT COMPLICATIONS CAN HYPERTENSION ENTAIL?
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, an enlarged left heart, heart failure, damage to your brain, damage to your kidneys, damage to your eyes and even sexual dysfunction.
Q: CAN HYPERTENSION BE CURED?
Hypertension is not curable, but it can be managed. Following your doctor’s recommendations for exercise, diet and medications can bring your blood pressure closer to normal. Managing your blood pressure often leads to a higher quality of life and can lower your risk of heart disease and other complications.