Did you know that 170,000 people in New Zealand are living with heart disease? If you break that figure down, that’s more than 1 in every 23 adults.
What can you do to prevent yourself from becoming that 1 in 23? Actually, quite a bit.
By reviewing your health and lifestyle habits and making some changes, you can vastly improve your cardiovascular health: the health of both your heart and your blood vessels. At Specialist Vein Health, our Vascular Surgeons treat abnormalities with blood vessels, which are like highways in your body that allow blood to flow quickly and efficiently from the heart to the outer region of your body and back again.
It’s a new year—the perfect time to set some goals and change up your routine to maintain your cardiovascular health. Keep reading to find out how.
Why Is Cardiovascular Health Important?
Your heart is a vital organ. If you don’t take care of it, you may end up with heart disease. Heart disease is an umbrella term for a variety of heart conditions. The most common of these is coronary artery disease (CAD). Coronary arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to your heart, keeping it pumping. CAD happens when fatty material, or plaque, builds up within these arteries. This can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.
There are many conditions that can cause CAD, including:
- high cholesterol,
- high blood pressure,
- sleep apnea,
- unhealthy diet/weight,
- not enough exercise,
- too much alcohol.
Fortunately, there are things you can do every day to avoid these conditions and keep your heart in good shape.
1. Exercise regularly
One of the most important things you can do for your overall health is to get regular exercise. Physical activity also has a positive impact on your heart health. Exercise makes your heart stronger—don’t forget it’s a muscle! A stronger heart requires less effort to pump blood. When the force on your arteries decreases, your blood pressure is lowered.
Getting control of your weight is easier with regular exercise. Increased body weight has been linked to both high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Exercising burns calories that might otherwise be stored as fat. Aerobic exercise is great for your heart health, providing cardiovascular conditioning. Types of aerobic exercise include walking, swimming, and cycling, to name just a few. Anything that gets your heart rate up. Some flexibility and stretching activities are also helpful to your heart. These exercises can reduce the thickening of the arteries that lead to high blood pressure or a stroke. Yoga is a great example of this type of exercise. Try to fit in some exercise every day. It doesn’t even have to be formal. Parking your car further from your destination will give you some walking time. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Get a fitness tracker to count your steps and set yourself a daily goal.