Cardiovascular is a word that stands for heart and blood. “Cardio” is your heart while “vascular” refers to veins. You can understand why doctors pay such close attention to this aspect of your health. Without a heartbeat, you would die. Blood flow is critical to the health of this organ which pumps red and white cells through your body. You can hope this system is effective, but millions of North Americans sabotage it every day.

Risks of Poor Cardiovascular Maintenance

The list of potential consequences relating to heart problems makes for depressing reading: high blood-pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, and heart attack. These are serious problems. How does a body get to the point where the heart isn’t functioning properly? There are multiple potential causes.

Causes of Cardiovascular Disease

There are four main causes of heart problems. One is genetics. Diet and exercise are major contributing factors. So is emotional health; particularly the way you handle stress. One or a combination of these problems can cause interference in your system, blocked arteries, and other issues which stop a heart from beating.

Family, Genetics, and Medicine

One of the problems is out of a person’s hands: genetics. You can be slender and fit but still suffer a heart attack because of genetic predisposition. Know your family’s medical history and get tested if high-cholesterol, high blood-pressure, or other heart-related problems are notable in close relatives. Your doctor might prescribe medication to treat a condition that would go untouched by the usual approach of adopting a healthy lifestyle.

The Doomsday Diet

Diet is another factor in the soaring numbers of heart problems doctors and surgeons see daily. The average American consumes far more fatty or refined food than he needs and isn’t burning the calories, so he stores them as fat. This builds up around organs and creates blockages in veins and arteries.

Your diet should be low in fat, high in fiber, and consist mostly of plant-based ingredients. Vegetables and fruits are at the top of the list followed by beans, tofu, and nuts for protein. If you like animal protein, take this in moderation.

While you’re making changes, cut back on alcohol and stop smoking. Both of these ingredients are detrimental to your heart health.

The Enemy of Exercise

If you don’t work a muscle it won’t become strong, but a weak heart makes exercise a chore. Persevere: you will build strength. The heart is a muscle and it needs more than the usual exertion of lifting a spoon or fork to your mouth to become a sturdy machine that will see a person into old age.

Choose fitness routines you enjoy and fit at least 20 minutes of movement into each day. An exercise works your heart if you get out of breath and notice a rise in your heart rate. Don’t overdo it, though: over-taxing your heart is also risky business. Take your time and build up to longer periods of exertion.

Understating Stress

Although inadequate emotional health is a common killer, few people recognize the danger. Stress can cause stroke, heart attack, and more. Think about your feelings. Are you constantly “stressed out” by life in general and, if so, why? Is there legitimate reason to feel this way? If not, visit a counselor and find a new, sensible perspective on life. Learn to relax. Take up yoga or explore your spiritual health.

When stress is caused by environmental factors, do what you can to change those. Make a list of priorities. Say “no” when asked to join another committee. Find time for self care. Most importantly, maintain a positive outlook on life. You will attract others who are also positive. Negative talk tends to either attract people who bring you down or leads to isolation.

Supplements for Cardiovascular Health

A healthy diet, exercise, and a positive outlook on life (supported by medication if a condition is unavoidable) will uphold heart health, but you could do one more thing. Add a supplement to your daily routine. Several are thought to promote healthy circulation, immune response, and muscle recovery.

Take a multi-vitamin containing Omega 3s, Vitamin C, minerals, and other vitamins. Talk to a dietitian or holistic care giver and find the ideal combination of vitamins and minerals for age, fitness level, and sex.

Give the Gift of Good Health

Do you know someone who can’t seem to get motivated? Give her gifts which could prolong her life. Treat her to a meal at a heart-healthy restaurant. Thai and Japanese cuisine are very low in fat and high in nutrients.

Offer to partner with this person for long, brisk walks in the morning before work or during a shared lunch hour. Provide consolation and support during difficult times, but don’t enable your friend’s bad behavior: prod her to make good choices. Adopting a healthier lifestyle has to be that individual’s choice but every major change starts with a catalyst.