The Aging Healthy Heart

When you consider what that complicated pump we call a heart has to do it is amazing that it works well for as long as it does. Beating 100,000 times a day, pumping 1,800 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of vessels, it rarely enters our consciousness. However, being conscious of the heart and being aware of it's care and maintenance requirements can greatly reduce all kinds of deterioration, disease, or failure.

For years modern medicine has told us that this pump wears out and weakens as we age. But recently more and more health professionals are suggesting that lifestyle may have more to do with deterioration and disease than simply aging. We will take a look at some of the most common ailments and alternative, natural methods of dealing with them.

First, let's take a look at this marvelous pump. In the simplest terms, it consists of four chambers, two atria (upper chambers) and two ventricles (lower chambers).  As the muscles relax, blood (oxygen filled blood from the lungs and carbon dioxide filled blood from the rest of the body) enters its various chambers. The atrium fill with blood and help move blood into the ventricle. The ventricle supplies the main force that pumps the blood out, through either the lungs or to the rest of the body.  As the blood enters flaps called valves close quickly to stop any blood leaking backwards and thus control the direction of blood flow.

Cardiovascular problems commonly related to aging

  • Arteriosclerosis Hardening and clogging of the arteries due to excessive build up of fat and cholesterol known as plaque. Atherosclerosis is a special form of arteriosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, only the inner lining of the artery is affected.
  • High blood pressure Greater force is necessary to push blood through narrowed vessels due to plaque build up. So high blood pressure develops and this buildup and shortage of oxygenated blood over time, leads to attacks
  • Aneurysm An abnormal bulge or “ballooning” in the wall of a blood vessel caused by disease or weakening of the vessel wall. They most commonly occur in arteries at the base of the brain and in the aorta.
  • Arrhythmia Abnormal heart rhythms of various types such as atrial fibrillation
  • Angina Chest discomfort that occurs when there is a decreased blood oxygen supply to an area of a pumping muscle. In most cases, the lack of blood supply is due to a narrowing of the coronary arteries as a result of arteriosclerosis.
  • Heart failure Caused by many conditions including coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and conditions that overwork the heart. Symptoms of heart failure include congested lungs, fluid and water retention, dizziness, fatigue and weakness, and rapid or irregular heartbeats.

    You control the risk factors.

    High blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, and smoking are risk factors totally under your control. Conscious daily attention to lifestyle is critical to optimum wellness. Maintaining a healthy diet and regular activity level and stopping unhealthy habits like smoking go a long way in controlling heart related problems. A happy, optimistic attitude toward life helps to make you want to do the right thing.

    Diet and Exercise

    If you have read the Diet page of this website you are familiar with what is and is not healthy. The Mediterranean Diet is a great guideline. Here are some others:

    • Keep fat intake below 30 percent of your total calories. Try to avoid fried food stuffs and also food that contain excess fat such as beef, mutton etc.
    • Within the recommended fat intake, less than 10% should come from saturated fat. i.e 25 gm for women and 30gm for men. A slice of cheese, a pat of butter, one half cup of milk contains about 5gm of fat.
    • 50 to 60% of your total calories should come from carbohydrates such as potatoes,rice, whole grain bread and pasta.
    • Limit the cholesterol in your diet to 300 milligrams or less, a day. Eggs, meat and diary products are major sources of cholesterol. One egg yolk contains about 220 milligrams of cholesterol.
    • Reduce the amount of salt intake.
    • Eat raw vegetables such as cucumber, carrot, tomato, onion etc. and also foods with more fiber content.
    • Daily, moderate exercise strengthens the cardio muscles, vessels and arteries. Walking or bicycling are excellent. See the Exercise page for cardiovascular guidelines.

      Your attitude toward your entire physical body reflects how you live, how you feel, and how well you sleep. Changing your thinking can change your life when it comes to having a healthy cardiovascular system. Nothing is more important than feeling good.

      My personal experience with atrial fibrillation

      Common sense and tips in dealing with diabetes

      Controlling and Reducing High Blood Pressure

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