Improve Your Cardiovascular Health This Year

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Approximately 84 million people in the United States suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease. This includes an estimated 2,200 deaths each day, or one death every 40 seconds. To add even more perspective, nearly one out of three deaths in the U.S. results from the disease, and cardiovascular disease causes more deaths than accidents, cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases combined. It is the number one killer of both men and women.

Matters surrounding the cardiovascular system can vary and sometimes can differ depending on factors such as age and gender. Stroke, hypertension and congestive heart failure are more common in women due to their decline of estrogen—especially in their 40s and 50s. Anxiety and depression also raise these risks, and women are more likely to be diagnosed than men. Men tend to have higher cholesterol.

Heart disease is often molded by one’s diet and lifestyle. Another underlying factor is chronic stress, which creates imbalances in basic biological pathways that lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Moreover, chronic stress can lead to poor eating habits and coping skills, such as cigarette smoking or alcohol use.

With diet being a focal point in the quest for heart health, it is recommended that people be conscious of not only what they are consuming but what they are avoiding as well.

Following a heart-healthy diet is very important, including eating fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, lean poultry, fish, nuts and whole grains. People should limit consumption of red meat, whole-fat dairy, shellfish, saturated fats and high cholesterol foods, and steer away from any processed foods. Eating nuts is very good for heart health—Brazilian nuts and walnuts, specifically.

Other tips to improve cardiovascular health include incorporating 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three or more days a week, such as walking, biking, hiking or swimming; getting to bed before 11 p.m.; stress management; drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water; and supplementing with high-quality omega-3s with a 4:1 ratio of EPA to DHA (if a person is not eating fatty fish two or more times a week).

Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can help lower triglycerides, reduce blood clotting and help prevent the risk of coronary heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can even be described as multipurpose, as they not only help with inflammation but can be effective toward improving immunity and mood, among other issues.

Omega-3 fatty acids, CoQ10 and hawthorn extract are some of the natural solutions that can help combat blood pressure. Some of the best researched natural therapies for maintaining normal lipid levels and preventing lipid peroxidation include omega-3 fatty acids, garlic, niacin, CoQ10 and various antioxidants, such as green tea, flavonoids and other plant polyphenols, such as those found in hawthorn extract. 

Source: Steven M. Rachlin, M.D., of Rachlin Medical Center (927 Willis Ave., Albertson), has been practicing for more than 30 years. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 516-873-7773 or visit

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