We all remember gym class, correct? Whether you loved it (all the boys in my class) or hated it, (certain girls who didn’t like to sweat) exercising in gym was designed to do more than wearing out the kids for the classroom teachers—gym is meant to help kids have a healthy heart and get into the habit of expending energy physically. Of course cardiovascular disease is harmful, it is a type of disease after all, but what exactly is cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular Disease Defined
Also known as heart and blood vessel disease, cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of deaths worldwide. This disease includes many problems, many of which deal with atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that comes about when plaque builds up in the walls of your arteries, which makes it harder for blood to flow through. Other common cardiovascular problems include heart failure, inflammatory heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, arrhythmia and strokes.
Risk factors include age, gender, and air pollution. Studies have shown that about 82 % of people who die of heart disease are 65 and older. Men are generally more likely to develop some type of cardiovascular disease than women, however, once women reach menopause, their chances are about equal to a man’s. It is also shown that higher exposure to particulate matter, which are tiny pieces of matter that float around in a gas or a liquid, lead to an increased risk of atherosclerosis and inflammation.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
1) Eat more fruits and veggies—these are good sources of dietary fiber, have many beneficial vitamins and minerals, and contain substances found in plants that could help fight against cardiovascular disease
2) Select foods with whole grains—whole grains are high in fiber and various nutrients which help with heart health and the regulation of blood pressure
3) Stay away from cholesterol and unhealthy fats—high blood cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, which could cause a heart attack or stroke. The best thing to do is limit the amount of saturated and trans fat you consume, make sure to check labels!
4) Eat food rich in protein and low in fat— lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, eggs, and beans/lentils are great sources of protein. Be sure to choose the low-fat options here! For instance, choose skim milk over whole milk and opt for skinless chicken instead of fried chicken. Soy protein is a good substitute for meat protein also!
5) Stop smoking cigs—smoking tobacco increases your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Once you stop smoking, your risk of a heart attack will decrease soon after quitting
6) Keep a healthy body weight—in order to know if you are at a healthy weight for your body type, use a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. To maintain a healthy weight, stick to a nutritional diet and exercise as regularly as possible. Yes exercising can be boring, but find something you enjoy doing. Personally, I love playing tennis, badminton, going for walks with friends, and dancing—doing these things a