Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States- one American dies every 36 seconds from heart disease. Your heart is the engine of your body. It pumps oxygen throughout your body and keeps everything going smoothly. February is American Heart Month, and it is the perfect time to start taking a proactive approach to your heart’s health.
Read on to learn more about ways to keep your heart health every day.
What Is Vascular Disease?
Vascular disease refers to any condition affecting the network of blood vessels in your body, which is known as your vascular system. The term “vascular” comes from a Latin word for hollow container; if your entire network of blood vessels were stretched end-to-end, they could circle the Earth multiple times.
Vessels that transport blood is a vital part of the circulatory system. Your heart beats, sending blood through arteries and veins that supply oxygen and nutrients to tissues and carry away waste products.
Lymph vessels and lymph nodes are part of a separate cleaning system that helps rid your body of damaged cells. They also help protect you from infections and cancer by collecting fluid from tissues throughout your body, draining back into veins under your collarbones.
Vascular diseases include problems with your body’s arteries, veins, and lymphatic vessels; they also affect how your blood flows. Vascular disease can cause tissue damage due to a lack of oxygen-rich blood flow (ischemia) and other serious, even life-threatening problems.
Focus on Your Heart’s Health During Heart Month
Most vascular diseases can actually be prevented altogether through lifestyle changes.
There is no bad time of year to start leading a healthier lifestyle, but Heart Month is a great time to do it! Heart Month encourages us to keep our bodies healthy, and there are lots of different ways to get started.
Implement some of the lifestyle choices below to begin taking a proactive approach to your heart health. Even if you cannot do it all at once, gradual changes can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Healthy Food Choices
A healthy diet is the most important component of heart health. According to the American Heart Association, a vegetable-heavy diet with lots of leafy greens and a diverse blend of your favorite produce can help protect against cardiovascular disease. To get the most out of your veggies, try them in every color for diversity and balanced nutrition. Whole grains are also recommended but limit heavily processed foods and fast food. Rather than consuming unhealthy fats, try to eat healthier fats like olive oil, salmon, and avocado.
Most important of all, minimize your intake of salt and sugar. Moderation is key! You do not have to cut these out entirely but aim to reduce your intake.
A primary risk factor for heart disease is lack of exercise. Regular exercise is great for your entire body and overall well-being and drastically reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. Aim to exercise 30 minutes a day. Routine exercise also reduces the impact of other risk factors, such as obesity and stress. Exercise can also improve your cholesterol levels.
The type of exercise is completely customizable. Try to find an exercise routine that is within your abilities and that you enjoy– biking, running, kickboxing, dancing, weightlifting, swimming… the possibilities are endless! If you enjoy what you do, you are likelier to stick with it.
Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
In addition to diet and exercise, there are several ways to live an all-around healthier life.
Try to get a good night’s sleep at night. Sleep is your body’s way to rest and recover each day, and a good night’s sleep promotes good heart health. Limit your substance use. Alcohol and tobacco both impact your heart’s health over time. Try to quit smoking, and work on cutting back your drinks per week- even small changes count! Tobacco use, in particular, can drastically increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases. The sooner you can stop smoking, the better your heart health will be.
Also, work on reducing your stress. Everyone gets stressed out, but daily stress is hard on the body. A few minutes of mindful, relaxing meditation in the evenings can get your mind in a better space for bedtime.
Be Proactive in Your Heart Health
There is no better time than the present!
Celebrate American Heart Month this February by making healthier lifestyle choices each day. Try to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and work on maintaining healthy habits every day.
Call Coastal Vascular Center today for any questions about your vascular health!