Cardiovascular Health

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The cardiovascular system is responsible for providing oxygen and nutrients to every tissue and organ in your body – keeping you alive and well.

Did you know?

  • The body has its own pump system that involves around 100, 00 kilometres of blood vessels.

  • Your heart can beat over 100, 000 times every day!

  • Adults have an average of 4.7 – 5 litres of blood in their body

  • Normal, health blood pressure is around 120/80

  • In 2007-2008, 1 in 6 Australians had a cardiovascular disease.

The main types of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Australia are:

  • Coronary heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Heart failure and cardiomyopathy

  • Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

  • Peripheral vascular disease

  • Congenital heart disease


How can you maintain a healthy heart?

  • Sleep to your heart’s content: People who sleep fewer than seven hours a night have a higher blood pressure and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, making the arteries more vulnerable to plaque build up. Try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and develop a stress-free wind-down ritual before bed.

  • Strengthen your heart with weight training: Strength training reduces your percentage of body fat, keeps your weight down, and increases your muscle mass and endurance for aerobic exercise. Do some weight training with free weights twice a week, making sure to focus on both your upper and lower body. As your aerobic capacity improves through strength training, your good HDL cholesterol levels will increase.

  • Focus on the middle: Carrying too much weight around the middle raises blood pressure, affects blood lipids (and not in a good way), and does other damage to the heart. If your waist size is more than 35 inches in women or more than 40 inches in men, this tells you that you are at increased risk for heart disease and type 2 Diabetes. Best way to shrink the waist line? Become more active and get rid of simple sugar and white-floured foods in your diet, as these foods tend to take up residence right around the middle.

  • Reduce your blood pressure by reducing your salt: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, and reducing salt intake can help lower blood pressure. Cook with herbs in place of salt, and make sure you read the food labels to see just how much salt is in prepared foods.

  • LOL: Not in an email, not on Twitter or Facebook, but really: Laugh out loud. If it gets you chuckling, it’s good for your heart. Research shows that laughter helps relieve the stress that damages the endothelium (the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels) and helps your blood flow. It also promotes the healthy function of blood vessels.

  • Move it, move it, move it: Studies show that sitting for long periods of time could shorten your life regardless of your body weight. It appears that being a couch potato has an unhealthy influence on blood fats and blood sugar. At the office, work in “get up” breaks, and go for a stroll.

  • Go nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pecans and other tree nuts deliver a powerful punch for lowering your risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. Substituting foods high in saturated fats with nuts helps reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.

  • Brew up a heart healthy potion: No magic is needed when you sip green or black tea. Studies that focus on black and green varieties show that drinking tea can improve arterial health.

  • Smile: Good dental hygiene does more than keep your pearly whites glistening – it may affect your overall health. Research suggests that several types of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, may be connected to oral health.

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Seek support if necessary. If you require assistance in establishing proper dietary changes, or to help deal with stress and other difficulties, it would be valuable to contact your health care practitioner who can supply you with all the tools and support that is needed to enable you live a happy and healthy life.