Improving Cardiovascular Health

Introduction

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease accounts for one of every four deaths in the United States. Thereby, many of the causes of heart disease are well-known. This includes hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and obesity. Lifestyle and behavior change will drastically reduce the risk of heart disease.

Brain Health

The brain requires a large amount of blood flow, which needs to be precisely controlled to maintain optimal neuronal function. If a person has a problem with the function of the heart or blood vessels. Thereby, a person can prevent adequate blood flow supply to the brain and eventually affect brain function and cognition. Therefore, a person with congestive heart failure has a higher incidence of dementia. People with heart failure acquire a reduction in capacity regarding the left ventricle, thereby reducing the amount of blood being pumped by the left ventricle.

A study conducted by Zuccala G et. al. looked at Cognitive impairment. The cross-sectional study assessed the prevalence and determinants of cognitive dysfunction in older patients with mild to moderate heart failure.

Cognitive impairment in older patients with chronic heart failure is common and independently associated with lower left ventricular ejection fraction.

Thereby, overwhelming incidence and prevalence of heart failure in older populations. Early detection of cognitive impairment in these subjects with prompt, intensive treatment of left ventricular and systolic dysfunction may prevent or delay a remarkable proportion of dementia in advanced age.

Exercise

Exercise can reduce the risk of developing heart disease and developing cognitive decline.

Older adults who are more physically active have better brain health compared with sedentary counterparts. American College of Sports Medicine suggests 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week along with 2 times per week of muscle-strengthening activities such as strength training.

Healthy Eating

In addition to exercise, diet is an important factor in reducing the chances of a heart attack. A person’s pattern of eating should focus on including a variety of nutrient-dense foods while limiting empty calories. Nutrient-dense foods are foods with a mix of high nutrient content and relatively low calories. Foods consisting of multiple vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins are considered nutrient-dense. Empty calories offer minimal nutrients but at the same time relatively high calories providing little to no health benefit to the consumer. Solid fats and added sugars in both foods and beverages are primarily responsible for empty calories in the American diet.            

Creating a healthy eating pattern

  1. Choose vegetables from different subgroups – dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other.
  2. Consume the whole fruit versus fruit juice.
  3. Half or more of grains should come from whole grains.
  4. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
  5. A variety of proteins should be consumed including lean meats and poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, soy products, and legumes.
  6. Healthy fats and oils should be substituted for those containing saturated fat and/or trans fat.
  7. Research shows that a healthy eating pattern limits saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.

Special consideration for weight loss

  1. In order to promote weight loss, a caloric deficit must be created and maintained.
  2. A person must eat less than their body uses. To safely lose weight, it is important to remember the following.
  3. Include nutrient-dense foods at each meal or snack opportunity. Try fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, lean protein, low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
  4. Include pre-planned meals and snacks as a healthy option.
  5. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Aim for at least 8-10 cups per day.
  6. Distinguish eating out of boredom versus when you’re truly hungry.
  7. Don’t skip meals. Instead, aim for 5-6 small meals spread throughout the day.
  8. Be aware of what barriers you have on your weight loss journey. Plan in advance how to overcome these challenges.

Conclusion

In order to minimize the chances of heart attack or other diseases, one must exercise several times a week in which aerobic exercise is included for a bare minimum of 150 minutes per week.

In addition to exercise, one must have a solid diet to maximize the gains that take place in the gym by virtue of muscle gain and fat loss. Moreover, a well laid out plan can and will go a long way in preventing a heart attack

References

Barnes, J. (2019, February 22). Heart Health & Brain Health Go Hand-in-Hand. ACSM.https://www.acsm.org/all-blog-posts/acsm-blog/acsm-blog/2019/02/22/heart-health-brain-health-connection

Torre, J. (1994). Impaired brain microcirculation may trigger Alzheimer’s disease. PubMed, 18(3), 397-401.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7984357

Zuccala, G., Manes, E. G., Di, M. N., Cocchi, A., & Bernabei, R. (1997). Left ventricular dysfunction: a clue to cognitive impairment in older patients with heart failure. PubMed, 63(4), 509-512.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9343133

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