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Cardiovascular Health

Updated on December 14, 2014

There's so much information out there about what's good and/or bad for cardiovascular health, and sometimes the information is even contradictory.


I did not have much prior knowledge about cardiovascular health; most of my knowledge came from my health class during my freshmen year in high school. I knew that healthy habits like exercising and eating healthy could improve cardiovascular health while bad habits like smoking, eating excessively, and doing drugs can decrease cardiovascular health. The most surprising thing I learned about cardiovascular health was that “cardiovascular disease kills more people than everything else combined—and it’s mostly preventable” (Ornish, 2006). I knew that people died from cardiovascular disease, but I had no idea that so many people died from it nor that cardiovascular disease is mostly preventable. It amazes me that more people don’t make the small lifestyle changes required to almost completely prevent themselves from dying from a cardiovascular disease. I was also surprised to learn that females who drink two or more sugar-sweetened drinks a day quadruple their risk of heart disease even if their weight is in a healthy range, that alcohol and chocolate in moderation can decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, and that laughing has the same benefit to the cardiovascular system as aerobic exercise.

In order to maintain my cardiovascular health I speed walk with my dog for a mile one to two times a day, maintain my weight by watching my calorie intake, and I never have more than one sweet item per day. Prior to this week I did not realize that stress could negatively impact my cardiovascular health. Knowing this I plan to update my health plan to include some sort of stress relief activity at least three times a week. I do not drink many sugar-sweetened beverages and those that I do drink I only have rarely and in moderation.

References

Module Six: Surprising and Enjoyable Methods to Maintain Cardiovascular Health. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2014, from https://bb.snhu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4312647-dt-content-rid8655491_1/courses/BIO-210-14EW2-MASTER/BIO-210-14EW3MASTER_ImportedContent_20131031081900/BIO-210-13EW2MASTER_ImportedContent_20130909125013/BIO21013EW1MASTER_ImportedContent_20130627101023/BIO-210-13EW6MASTER_ImportedContent_20130522024011/Learning%20Modules/Module%20Six%20Module%20Lecture/BIO210_ModuleSix_Lecture.pdf

Ornish, D. (2006). Dean Ornish on the world's killer diet. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/dean_ornish_on_the_world_s_killer_diet.html

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Surprising and Enjoyable Methods to Maintain Cardiovascular Health

Dr. Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, supports this powerful statement: “Cardiovascular disease kills more people than everything else combined—and it’s mostly preventable” (Ornish, 2006). That is quite an eye-opening statement. An even more amazing fact is that it can be prevented simply by making informed lifestyle choices.
Most people are aware that adhering to a healthy diet and exercise regime are good for the heart and that consuming foods that are high in cholesterol is a no-no. But it isn’t just fatty foods that can wreak havoc in the body; sugary beverages can as well. Women who consume two or more sugar-sweetened drinks each day quadruple their risk of developing heart disease, even if their body weight is in the healthy range. One of the reasons is that these women have excess abdominal fat, which causes diabetes and an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, all of which put them at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Believe it or not, women can opt for an alcoholic drink if they would like a healthier beverage choice. That is because alcohol consumed in moderation can decrease their risk of heart disease. (Keep in mind that drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can cause liver damage and cancer.) Researchers recommend between one-third and one drink per day. If a small glass of wine doesn’t satisfy the sweet tooth, have it with a piece of chocolate; in fact, do so at least once a week. Chocolate has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, both of which are good for the heart, and it can lower blood pressure. Keep in mind that it has a great deal of sugar and fat; so it, like alcohol, should be consumed in moderation.
Laughing is great for the blood vessels, as well. Laughing for 15 minutes gives the body the same cardiovascular benefits as aerobic exercise.
People who have several close friends and take an active role in the community also have better cardiovascular health and longer lives. Spending times with friends is a fun and effective way to relax, and managing stress is essential for maintaining both emotional and physical health.

References

Five steps to a healthier heart: Expert offers simple lifestyle changes to keep cardiovascular disease at bay. (2011, January 15). U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/heart/articles/2011/01/15/five-steps-to-a-healthier-heart


Haupt, A. (2011, August 29). Health buzz: Chocolate could lower risk of heart disease, stroke. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/heart/articles/2011/08/29/health-buzz-chocolate-could-lower-risk-of-heart-disease-stroke


Haupt, A. (2010, September 22). Heath buzz: How your personality affects your health. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/heart/articles/2010/09/22/how-your-personality-affects-your-health?s_cid=related-links:TOP


Haupt, A. (2011, November 14). Health buzz: Sugary drinks raise heart risks. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diet/articles/2011/11/14/health-buzz-sugary-drinks-raise-heart-risks


Marieb, E.N. (2012). Essentials of human anatomy and physiology (10th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson Education, Inc.


Ornish, D. (2006). Dean Ornish on the world's killer diet. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/dean_ornish_on_the_world_s_killer_diet.html


Sun, Q., Townsend, M. K., Okereke, O. I., Rimm, E. B., Hu, F. B., Stampfer, M. J., et al. (2011, September 6). Alcohol consumption at midlife and successful ageing in women: A prospective cohort analysis in the nurses' health study. PLoS Med 8(9): e1001090. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090

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    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Very useful write misty. Thanks for sharing. It includes a complete package for a healthy stay with sound heart. Voted up and shared..hope this will serve as a useful stuff for those who care for their heart.