Out of all the muscles in your body, the hardest working of all is your heart. It beats around 70 times per minute which is about 100, 000 time per day as it continuously pumps blood around your body delivering oxygen and other essential nutrients to your organs and tissues. It also helps remove waste products so your body can function properly.

How exactly does your heart work?

Your heart consists of four chambers and operates as a double pump. Deoxygenated blood is returned to the right side of the heart via the venous system where it first enters the right atrium and then the right ventricle, which in turn pumps blood to the lungs via the pulmonary arteries.

 

On reaching the lungs, a process known as gaseous exchange occurs where carbon dioxide is removed from the blood and replaced with fresh oxygen. This newly oxygenated blood returns to the left side of the heart via the pulmonary veins and passes through the left atrium into the left ventricle from where it is pumped into the aorta. This artery then divides into smaller and smaller branches so blood reaches every part of your body.

 

To have good cardiovascular health, both your heart and your blood vessels need to work efficiently.

 

As any plumber would tell you, plumbing has a tendency to go wrong over time. Pipes fur up, spring a leak, get blocked and can, in the worse case scenario, lead to expensive boiler problems!

 

Frankly, many parallels can be drawn between this and your cardiovascular health, which also needs regular maintenance and annual check ups. As we get older our arteries can also fur up and narrow leading to high blood pressure. This puts more stress on the heart and makes the vascular system more prone to damage increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. So is there anything that you can do to prevent this happening?

 

There are certain things about you and your lifestyle that can increase your chances of developing heart problems. These are called risk factors, which can be divided into two groups – those you can do something about and those you can’t.

 

The risk factors that you can’t change include having a family history of cardiovascular disease, your ethic background and your age.

The good news, however, is that there are lots of ways of reducing this risk. Prevention really is the key and by making some lifestyle changes now you can help keep your heart healthy. Here are some ways that you can start to do this.

 

By eating a healthier diet

A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease and stop you gaining weight – reducing your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. A good diet should include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish and pulses and restricted salt, sugar and fat intake.

 

By getting up and moving

Regular exercise will not only help your heart but has many other health benefits. It will give you more energy, relieve stress and help make you more supple and protect against osteoporosis.

 

By giving up smoking and limiting the booze

Stopping smoking can significantly reduce the risk of having a heart attack and has huge health benefits as can reducing your alcohol intake to within the recommended daily allowances (or below).

 

By de-stressing

While stress is not a direct risk factor, it is possible that it may contribute depending on your coping mechanism. For example, when you are stressed you may be more likely to smoke, over eat or drink more – all of which can increase your risk of heart disease.

 

By being aware of the dangers of having high blood pressure

High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer as many people who suffer from this condition may not have any symptoms. One way to find out if you are at risk is to have your blood pressure taken regularly.

 

As February is the month of lurve, we are offering FREE cardiovascular checks.  

Not sure what your blood pressure is, why not book an appointment and come in and have it checked.

If you want advice on how to start making some lifestyle changes, we can help with that too.

 

You can also follow us on Facebook. Each day this month we will be posting tips on how to improve your cardiovascular health so we can help you keep your heart healthy!

Wriiten by Anne Marie Margetson, Osteopath.

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