It is what we all feel racing when we have moments of joy and pain. It’s what usually wins over logic and reason all of the time. It's the one single thing that everyone should take seriously, yes i’m talking about how healthy is your heart?
The heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. This steady flow carries with it oxygen, fuel, hormones, other compounds, and a host of essential cells. It also whisks away the waste products of metabolism. When the heart stops, essential functions fail, some almost instantly .
Taking all of this into account, let's look at what literally makes us tick and how we can help maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
The heart works like a pump and beats 100,000 times a day. It has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. The left side of the heart receives the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body .
Your heart is made up of three tissue layers:
The movement of blood around the body, pumped by the heart, is called circulation. Your heart, blood and blood vessels together make up your cardiovascular system (or heart and circulatory system). Your body contains about five litres (eight pints) of blood, which your heart is continuously circulating .
As your heart muscle contracts, it pushes blood through your heart. With each contraction, or heartbeat :
It is clear that the heart is one of the most important organs in the human body and it should be taken care of literally because your life depends on it! Before we get onto what is essential to keep a strong healthy heart, let us take a look at common things that can go wrong with the heart and cardiovascular system.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading killers, with over 17 million people dying globally from a heart related condition every year according to the World Health Organisation . There are a number of heart conditions that one could experience or be unlucky enough to be diagnosed with. The most common ones are :
So now that i’ve scared you enough with what can go wrong with the heart, let's see what can be done to keep the heart fit and healthy? Firstly, exercise! Get that heart pumping and get some oxygen around your body! The American Heart Association recommend the following :
For Overall Cardiovascular Health:
- At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes.
- At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- Moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.
For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol:
- An average 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.
Remember something is always better than nothing! And everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you've been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. If you don't think you'll make it for 30 or 40 minutes, set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward your overall goal by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day.
Nutrients are also essential for your heart. Here are some of the ones that the heart needs to function well :
One crucial topic I have not covered in detail is the role of cholesterol in cardiovascular health. As this is a vast and complex topic, I shall cover it in a blog of its own to do it justice. What I will say is that cholesterol does play a role in cardiovascular health, but not as much as you may think or are led to believe!
It can be seen by exercising, eating a varied and diet rich in vitamins and minerals and having sensible portions of food sizes combined with the occasional supplement can go a long way to helping our heart and cardiovascular system function at its optimum condition. Like the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
To educate yourself further, head over to Janco Voster's website, my afib heart, and read more on his great guide to heart health. It covers a lot of detail in 10 steps that are easy to follow.
If you think you require support with your cardiovascular health or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com