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Combating Age Related Heart Disease

Combating Age Related Heart Disease

The leading cause of death for both men and women is heart disease.  Heart disease is incredibly common, but it doesn’t have to be the problem that it is.  As you age, your risk of heart disease increases.


However, there’s much you can do to reverse heart disease if you catch it early - and it’s even better if you work to prevent it before it occurs.  It’s important to understand how you can protect your heart and reduce your risk of disease.


Factors Leading to Age Related Heart Disease


Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re destined to have heart disease.  As you age, though, your risk of heart disease increases.  Much of this is because you have underlying conditions that have had years to cause problems in the body.


If you let heart disease risk factors go for a long period of time, they can cause damage that’s irreversible and leads to heart attacks and strokes.  But these risk factors can often be reversed if you catch them early, preventing problems.


High Blood Pressure 

High blood pressure greatly increases your risk of heart disease.  This is the measure of how much pressure your blood exerts on the walls of your blood vessels as it travels through your body.


There are several things you can do to reduce high blood pressure.  One of the most important things you can do is limit your intake of sodium.  Sodium causes an increase in blood pressure.


Sodium is found most often in processed foods that contain preservatives.  You can avoid a lot of sodium by cooking meals at home from whole foods and looking for low sodium options.


Exercise is also known to reduce high blood pressure.  Walking daily can help lower your pressure effectively.  But the most important thing to do is to choose an activity you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it.


In some cases, medication may be needed to lower blood pressure.  Because high blood pressure is so closely associated with heart disease, it’s important to keep track of it and talk with your healthcare provider about your options.


High Cholesterol 

High cholesterol is also associated with heart disease.  When you have high cholesterol, the molecules will build up on the inside of your blood vessels, causing them to be rough and even causing blockages.


Your arteries will become hardened with what is called plaque.  If some of the plaque shears off of your blood vessel walls, it can travel directly the heart or brain causing a major blockage and heart attack or stroke.


If you have high cholesterol, you can reverse it through healthy lifestyle in many cases.  This includes eating healthy fats – these actually lower your cholesterol.  Some people also choose to take a fish oil supplement to aid in the process.


You also need to eat a diet high in fiber.  Fiber actually helps trap the cholesterol before it can make its way into your circulatory system.  Whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are all high in fiber.


A fiber supplement that contains psyllium husk can also be a good addition to your daily routine.  These are usually marketed to improve bowel regularity, but also have an effect on lowering cholesterol.


Reducing your intake of saturated fats from red meat and dairy products can also reduce your cholesterol levels.  You can also increase good cholesterol through exercise and eating healthy fats.


If diet and exercise haven’t reduced your cholesterol sufficiently, you may be advised to take cholesterol medication to keep it under control.  However, most people who make lifestyle changes can control cholesterol levels.


Monitor Blood Sugar 

Your blood sugar is very important for your heart health.  Diabetes, a disease characterized by high blood sugar, is closely related to heart disease.  By keeping your blood sugar under control, you can reverse heart disease. 


Lifestyle Changes for Better Heart Health


In addition to these specific problems, it’s important to consider living a lifestyle that promotes heart health.  Obviously, nutrition and exercise are a part of that picture.


But relaxation and rest are also critical.  Anything that causes an inflammatory state in the body will affect the heart in a negative way.  As we’ve already discussed, stress and lack of sleep can cause inflammation in the body.


You need to get plenty of rest and learn techniques for relaxation that work for you.  It’s also a good idea to follow the dietary principles that lead to reduced inflammation in the body.


By protecting your heart, you really protect all of the systems in your body.  All of the body’s systems are interconnected with the heart being at the core of them all.  When the heart works well, it can deliver oxygen and nutrients that support your overall health.

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