There is a string link between smoking and cardiovascular diseases – one of every three deaths from cardiovascular diseases can be linked with smoking, and nearly 40% of all deaths from smoking can be attributed to cardiovascular diseases!
It’s called Silent Killer for a reason. High Blood Pressure or Hypertension, a disease of the cardiovascular system that is characterized by a blood pressure of 140/90 or above, does not have many symptoms – some may experience occasional headaches, nosebleeds or shortness of breath, but for the most part, the body endures the disorder without any signs.
Fun fact about human body – in an average adult human, about 7,500 liters of blood travel daily through about 96,000 kilometers of what is known as the Circulatory System, which consists of three independent systems – the Heart (cardiovascular), the Lungs (pulmonary), and arteries & veins (systemic).
Myth #1: The Pain Is In My Arm, Not My Chest, So I Don’t Have To Worry
Reality: Women die from heart attacks because they often don’t recognize the symptoms until it’s too late. Until recently, many health-care providers also missed heart attacks in women (and still do occasionally) because women don’t always have the same symptoms as men do.
Men usually have heaviness in the left side of their chest, a feeling that’s often described as having an elephant sitting on top of them. It can be accompanied by pain down the left arm or up the neck, sweating and shortness of breath.
Some women do have the same symptoms as men. But many women having a heart attack don’t have chest pain at all. They may have jaw, arm, back or stomach pain or an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, along with shortness of breath. Or they may feel as if they have a bad flu and may experience nausea and vomiting.
The most common warning signs were unusual fatigue, sleep problems, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety.
Myth #2: I Have To Stay Away From All Fats
Reality: For years, the emphasis was on the importance of a low-fat diet, especially for heart health. It’s no wonder that when many people hear the word “fats,” they think “unhealthy.”
But some fats are actually good for us. New dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association consider “good” and “bad” fat which, thankfully, leads to a much tastier way of eating.
Unsaturated fats are “good” fats, coming mostly from plant or vegetable sources, and not from red meat. These are called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; that’s how you’ll see these good fats named on food labels. Examples are olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil (such as from salmon).
“Good” fats should be incorporated into our daily diets. Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkling ground flaxseed on yogurt or cereal, and eating wild salmon are easy ways to do this.
Use low-fat dairy products (or those labeled “no fat”), limit the amount of red meat you eat, and avoid margarine, fried foods and snack foods. You’ll help your heart, stay at a healthy weight and feel better!
Myth #3: I’m a Type A personality, So A Heart Attack Is Inevitable
Reality: Although a lot of attention has been paid to the negative health effects of the hard-driving, high-stress lifestyle, many studies have shown having a Type A personality alone does not mean a higher incidence of heart disease.
But some factors associated with a Type A personality – high blood pressure, smoking and lack of exercise – are risk factors.
Feelings associated with an increased risk are depression, a negative outlook, and anger and hostility. So make mental and spiritual health a priority. Get help for depression and feelings of constant anger and hostility. Connect with others to improve your sense of well-being. Of course, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are extremely important for both physical and mental health.
Myth #4: Only Middle-Aged People Have Heart Attacks
Reality: Women are relatively protected from heart disease until menopause. But premenopausal women with diabetes, a genetic form of high cholesterol (known as familial hyperlipidemia), untreated high blood pressure, and those who smoke or are overweight, are especially at risk for heart disease, no matter their age.
Myth #5: My Weight And Cholesterol Are Normal, So I’m Not At Risk For Heart Disease
Reality: Maintaining a healthy weight and having normal total cholesterol levels are important for artery health, but these factors aren’t enough to guarantee heart health. Other risk factors increase your chances of developing coronary artery disease (CAD). Some can be changed; others can’t.
Risk factors that can’t be changed include: getting older, gender, heredity and having had a prior heart attack or stroke. Risk increases as you age. Men are more at risk than pre-menopausal women; after menopause, women are equally at risk. Having a family member with heart disease or who has had a heart attack at an early age is a major risk factor. Risk factors that can be changed are high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, stress and depression, hormone replacement therapy in older women, high total cholesterol and being overweight.
What can you do to lower your risk?
Have your blood pressure checked regularly, and ask your doctor to test your blood glucose and total cholesterol levels.
Stop smoking now!
Start exercising regularly.
Talk to your doctor about stress reduction and options to control depression.
Also, discuss hormone replacement therapy after menopause; it should be taken for a limited time, and some women should not take it at all.
Also, let your doctor know if you have a family history of heart disease so that they can take that factor into account when treating you.
If you know your risk factors for heart disease, then you have the power to keep yourself heart-healthy.
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The quality of your skin is a sure-fire way to get a reading on your overall level of health. Of course, some people struggle with skin issues like acne and are otherwise perfectly fine — but skin quality can clue you in to some bigger problems. A poor diet can really impact your skin quality, and if you’re noticing blemishes like stretch marks? That should tell you that something is wrong.
Can’t seem to fall asleep at night? That can be an indication that some aspects of your life need adjusting. Whether it be that you’re eating the wrong foods, ingesting too much caffeine late in the day, or not expelling enough energy during the day, not being able to sleep presents an issue — which cascades into further issues.
Yep, we’re getting down and dirty. Take note of the color of your urine, and even how frequently you’re going No. 2 — those could both provide important insight into the state of your overall health. Since you’re going to ask, your urine should be a pale yellow color — and hopefully odorless. As for your bowel movement frequency, there’s a wide range. But if you’re going regularly, you’re probably fine. And don’t ignore the grimy details during your investigation.
Lip balm reliance
If your lips are constantly chapped, and you find that you can’t live without lip balm, that’s your body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. Specifically, your lip condition is an indicator of your vitamin levels. If your lips are chapped, you may be vitamin strapped — so diversify your diet, and get the nutrients you need.
Bad finger and toe nails
If the condition of your lips wasn’t a solid enough indicator, your finger and toe nails can also give you a heads-up if you’re unhealthy. You’re going to want to be on the lookout for ridges, discoloration, and bumps — all of which should be red flags. Your nails can tell you a lot about your overall state of health, so if something is strange, don’t ignore it.
Body temperature fluctuation
Icy feet and hands aren’t normal. Yes, there could be environmental factors at play, but if you’re consistently finding that your extremities are ice cold, it can be a sign of cardiovascular problems. Specifically, cold hands or feet might mean that you’re having circulation issues, and that your body isn’t getting blood where it needs to go. If this is a chronic issue, have it checked out.
A cloudy mind
It’s becoming quite clear that our cognitive ability and brain health are closely tied to our physical condition. That means that obesity and elevated levels of body fat can have a significant impact on our ability to think and reason. It’s kind of scary, but also a very promising area of research. So, if you can’t formulate a potent thought, it may be a sign that it’s time to drop some weight.
When most people think of cardiovascular (cardio) exercises, the first activities that come to mind are running, cycling, or swimming.
Yes, these are great ways to get your heart rate up, but not everyone enjoys them. Cardio should be a key part of your healthy lifestyle. Luckily, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Heart-healthy workouts don’t have to involve spending hours on the treadmill. There are plenty of fun and creative ways to get your cardio in and actually enjoy it.
Why Do You Need Cardio in the First Place?
Cardio is defined as any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up and keeps it up for a prolonged period of time. Your respiratory system will start working harder as you begin to breathe faster and more deeply. Your blood vessels will expand to bring more oxygen to your muscles, and your body will release natural painkillers (endorphins).
The physical and mental benefits of this type of exercise are seemingly endless.
Manage your weight:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)say there’s extensive scientific evidence that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week will help you maintain your weight over time.
Ward off heart disease:
Research has shown that getting your heart rate up with regular cardio exercises can help prevent cardiovascular disease, which accounted for 31 percent of global deaths in 2012.
It’s probably no surprise to you, but research supports the role that cardio exercise plays in improving your mood and increasing your happiness. Cardio ups the production of those feel-good painkillers called endorphins.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that people who regularly perform cardio exercise will live longer.
1. Jump Rope
Chances are, you haven’t jumped rope since 4th grade recess. If that’s the case, go get yourself a jump rope today! This form of cardio can be done just about anywhere. Turn up your favorite playlist and jump to the beat. Tossing your jump rope in a backpack, suitcase, or purse will help you squeeze in your 150 minutes of exercise per week whenever you have some spare time.
Whether or not you think you have two left feet, dancing is a great way to blow off some steam while also getting your cardio in. You may think that dancing’s limited to Zumba classes, but what’s keeping you from simply dancing around your room? Crank the tunes and dance yourself silly.
3. Organized Sports
You may not think of yourself as a “sports person,” but there are tons of adult sports leagues out there that are full of people just like you — people who want to have fun and be healthy. Sign up for soccer, flag football, basketball, or whatever suits your fancy. Running around a field or court is guaranteed to increase your heart rate. Check your community for noncompetitive sports leagues.
4. Power Walking
You don’t have to look like one of these power walkers to reap the benefits of this type of cardio. Step outside (or stick to the treadmill if the weather is bad) and pick up the pace.
This low-impact form of cardio is a great way to get your heart rate up while protecting your joints. If you’re not fully confident in your swimming skills, grab a kickboard and do a few laps. This will engage not only your legs, but your abs, too.
We can’t all be Rocky Balboa, but anyone can use boxing to get healthy. Just 30 minutes of boxing can help you burn up to 400 calories.
If you have a huge, bouncy trampoline in your backyard, that’s awesome. Jumping and playing around is not only good for you, but fun, too! If you don’t have a huge trampoline, don’t count yourself out of this one. You can get a compact trampoline to keep in your apartment. Putting on your favorite tunes and running or bouncing in place can be just as effective.
There are plenty of ways to fit this type of cardio into your day. Swap your car for a bike on your next trip to the grocery store. Switch it up and ditch the treadmill for the stationary bike on your next trip to the gym. Bite the bullet and try that spin studio you’ve been eyeing for the past six months, or buy a trainer so you can ride your road bike in your house or garage.
Love the outdoors? Hiking might be just the ticket to increase your ticker’s health. Getting moving outside will not only increase your cardiovascular fitness, but also boost your emotional well-being.
Think that rowing machine is just for those who want bulging biceps? Think again! Squeezing rowing into your gym routine can give you an extra cardio boost, as well as strengthen your abs and back muscles. If you’ve never tried it, challenge yourself with something new.
Swinging those hips around will up your heart rate and improve your core strength.
You may be wondering if walking counts as cardiovascular exercise. Of course! This is a great starting place for people who are new to exercise. Even a 10-minute walk can get you on the road to improved heart health. Experienced exercisers benefit from it, too.
13. Jumping Jacks
If you haven’t done these since high school gym class, you’re missing out! This equipment-free activity can get your heart rate up in no time. Plus, they’re easy to do from anywhere. Start jumping first thing in the morning, when you need a break from your desk, or while you’re waiting for your dinner to finish cooking.
Climbing stairs is a fantastic way to get your heart pumping and your body sweating. Find a park with a big set of stairs, or just a stairwell at a nearby building. Any climb will do.