What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a general term that includes many different conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. The narrowed or blocked blood vessels lead to diseases and conditions like heart stroke, chest pain and high blood pressure.
Every year, just about half a million people die of cardiovascular disease—that is more than diabetes and cancer combined.
Who’s at Risk?
Cardiovascular disease’s risk factors are like termites. Just like termites’ damage can be devastating to our properties, a lot of our unhealthy behaviors can prove to be the ‘silent destroyer(s)’ of our health.
Even if you don’t have cardiovascular disease now, you may have one or more habits or conditions that could increase your chance of developing it. Make sure that you start taking steps to improve your health and lifestyle, before it’s too late. If you:
- are 45 years of age or older
- eat a lot of salty foods
- have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- are an African American
- are physically inactive
- take excessive amount of stress
- are obese
- have a family history of cardiovascular disease
- take drugs or other caffeinated beverages
Indulging in just one of the above mentioned behaviors, means that you are at risk. Two of them quadruple your risk, whereas three increase your risk by 10 times.
Can It Be Prevented?
Prevention is better than cure – modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing heart problems like coronary heart disease (CHD), cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease and Atherosclerosis.
There are several things you can do to prevent cardiovascular disease – and it starts with making healthy choices and managing medical conditions.
1. Eating a healthy diet
There are specific changes you can make to your diet to help prevent heart disease:
- Focus on foods low in sodium, added sugar, and saturated fats and trans fats.
- Go nuts- Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other tree nuts deliver a powerful punch of heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
- Dark chocolate contains heart-healthy flavonoids
- Incorporate whole grain cereals such as whole wheat, oats and brown rice. Whole grains provide generous amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, which are heart healthy.
- Use lesser oil, margarine, mayonnaise and calorie-containing salad dressings.
- Pretzels, popcorn or rice cakes should be your go-to snacks rather than cookies, potato chips and cupcakes.
2. Know your drinks
Limit alcohol and switch to drinks that are non-caffeinated. Raspberry Leaf tea is one of the very few teas that has no caffeine in it. The concentration of potassium in Raspberry Leaf Tea makes it excellent for reducing blood pressure and protecting the cardiovascular system. It is also high in vitamin C and Gallic acid as well as other phytonutrients. The effects of raspberries and Raspberry Leaf Tea have been shown to help protect the heart and circulatory systems and slow down the advancement of age-related diseases, according to the Berry Health Benefits Network.
Additionally, Chamomile Tea – known as the sleep enabler – is another drink that helps with cardiac wellness. Sleep levels are inversely related to your heart health – the more you sleep, the better it is for your heart. Chamomile Tea helps with just that.
3. Maintaining a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of heart disease. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and sugar, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, combined with regular physical activity.
Find out if you’ve a healthy weight with the BMI calculator.
When shopping, it’s a good idea to look at the label on food and drink packaging to see how many calories and how much fat, salt and sugar the product contains to help you make healthier choices.
4. Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity is great for your heart health. It helps to maintain a healthy weight and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also be a great mood booster and stress buster.
Dancing makes for a great heart-healthy workout. Like other forms of aerobic exercise, it raises your heart rate, burns calories and gets your lungs pumping.
If you do not have the time for intensive workouts at the gym, fit in some physical activity in your day, such as by cycling to work, jogging in the morning, taking the stairs or following a 30-minutes workout on an app at home.
5. Give up smoking
Being smoke free is the best thing you can do for your heart. If you’re a smoker, simply quit. Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease, making you two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than a nonsmoker. Studies show that non-smokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart disease when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. This is because the chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries. Giving up tobacco can make a huge difference to not just your heart, but your overall health as well.
6. Manage your blood cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance carried in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to be healthy, but an imbalance in your blood can lead to a heart attack, peripheral vascular disease or even a stroke. Consumption of low-fat or reduced fat dairy products helps to reduce cholesterol levels. Choose leaner cuts of meat and lower fat dairy products like 1% fat milk over full-fat (or whole) milk.
7. Manage your blood pressure and diabetes
High cholesterol has also been linked to diabetes and high blood pressure. Blood pressure isn’t usually something you can feel. If it’s too high, it needs to be treated. To maintain healthy blood pressure, avoid using salt at the table and try adding less to your cooking and eventually, cut it out completely.
Little steps that bring small changes to your diet and lifestyle can unbelievably be the reason for big changes in your health!