Coronary heart disease, a condition characterized by the accumulation of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, is an incredibly common and dangerous health condition, threatening the lives of millions of people across the world every year.
According to the NHS, coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.K. and claims the lives of an estimated 73,000 people nationwide annually. Although the statistics are concerning, CHD, generally speaking, is a preventable condition if certain lifestyle adjustments are made. Before an examination of simple ways to improve your cardiovascular health, it's a good idea to take a closer look at what CHD is and what causes the condition:
A closer look at CHD
As outlined by the NHS, CHD occurs when the arteries that deliver blood supply to the heart become blocked by the build up of fatty deposits - this is called atherosclerosis. While the process of atherosclerosis can be engendered by a number of factors, there is a strong connection with certain lifestyle habits that can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of CHD. They include: A diet high in sugar, salt and saturated fat, a lack of exercise and smoking.
The source explained that CHD is so dangerous because in many cases it can lead to heart attacks or complete heart failure - both of which are highly dangerous and potentially fatal. Individuals with CHD will also likely experience chest pain known as angina. It should also be stressed, however, that CHD is sometimes asymptomatic.
As outlined, it is possible to reduce your risk of CHD via lifestyle changes. Let's take a look at five effective ways to improve your cardiovascular health:
1. Move every day
Even if it's just a little everyday, make sure that you find time for light to moderate exercise - basically any form of movement that gets your heart rate up. Indeed, as the NHS explained, to stay healthy most adults need around a half hour of exercise on five out of seven days a week to stay heart healthy. Simple ways to do this include going for a long walk, and taking the stairs whenever possible. More conventional means include joining a gym or signing up for exercise classes. The British Heart Foundation suggested keeping track of your exercise habits in a special diary. It is a great way to stay motivated.
"Make sure that you find time for light to moderate exercise everyday."
2. Lose weight if necessary
If you find that your Body Mass Index is in the overweight range, it is a good idea to begin making changes to your lifestyle, as excess weight can increase your chance of CHD, the NHS detailed. Some of the most simple ways to lose weight are to reduce your calorie intake and exercise more frequently. Also be sure to cut out foods high in fat and sugar and drink less soda and alcohol.
3. Take up meditation
According to Age UK, a number of studies have indicated that daily meditation can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke significantly, particularly in those already living with CHD. While researchers haven't identified a definitive reason for this, there is a strong link between meditation and lowered blood pressure, which in turn decreases the risk of heart attack.
4. Cut out unhealthy foods
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is key to better cardiovascular health. Conversely foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar can lead to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, both of which can substantially increase your risk of heart disease. That's why it's important to significantly reduce your intake of unhealthy food items - think chocolate, crisps, burgers, chips, pizza and so on. While the occasional burger is surely okay, the maxim to abide by is this: enjoy everything in moderation.
5. Stop smoking
It's no secret that smoking is unhealthy in a number of ways, increasing your risk of lung conditions such as bronchitis and lung cancer. The bad habit is also terrible for your cardiovascular health, the NHS reported. Thankfully, the source explained that if you eliminate smoking entirely, your risk of CHD falls considerably. For example, within the first 12 months or so after giving up, your risk of CHD can be up to 50 percent less than a smoker's risk.