The variables of daily living and the effects they have on the health of the HEART and BLOOD vessels. Health experts estimate that lifestyle modifications alone could eliminate 90 percent or more of acquired CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE (CVD). Given that 60 million Americans currently have at least one form of cardiovascular disease, the potential impact of such a reduction on LIFE EXPECTANCY as well as QUALITY OF LIFE is overwhelming. The three lifestyle factors that most significantly influence cardiovascular health are cigarette smoking, dietary habits, and physical activity.
NICOTINE, the active ingredient in cigarette smoke, is a potent vasoconstrictor and cardiovascular stimulant. Before a smoker finishes the first inhalation from a cigarette, nicotine is already surging through the bloodstream. It causes blood vessels throughout the body to stiffen and narrow, raising BLOOD PRESSURE. It raises the HEART RATE, further increasing blood pressure as well as the heart’s workload. Simultaneously, other substances in cigarette smoke interfere with the OXYGEN-CARBON DIOXIDE EXCHANGE in the LUNGS, reducing the amount of oxygen the blood carries into the blood circulation. As smoking continues over time, nicotine causes physical changes in the cells of the ARTERY walls, reducing their ability to contract and relax. Blood pressure elevation may become permanent (HYPERTENSION), and the arteries are more susceptible to ATHEROSCLEROTIC PLAQUE. With SMOKING CESSATION much of the arterial function returns. Hypertension may improve though ATHEROSCLEROSIS, including CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE (CAD) and PERIPHERAL VASCULAR DISEASE (PVD), remains.
The foods and the quantities of them that a person eats significantly influence blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products provides a rich source of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber that help regulate these lipids. This is important because elevated blood lipids (HYPERLIPIDEMIA) form the basis of atherosclerosis and the conditions that result, notably hypertension, CAD, and PVD. These nutrients also help the body tissues, including those of the cardiovascular system, to function efficiently. Nutritious eating further helps regulate the body’s GLUCOSE-INSULIN balance, important from a cardiovascular perspective because insulin plays a key role in the kinds and amounts of cholesterol and lipoproteins the LIVER manufactures. Insulin is also a key player in type 2 DIABETES, which is another risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Eating too much of any kind of food, however, results in increased body weight. OBESITY is another risk factor for numerous forms of CVD, notably hypertension and atherosclerosis. For many people a weight loss of 10 pounds can decrease systolic blood pressure by 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and lower CHOLESTEROL BLOOD LEVELS by 5 to 10 percent.
Daily physical activity is emerging as perhaps the single-most important lifestyle factor in regard to cardiovascular health and perhaps health overall. Exercise affects cellular METABOLISM in numerous ways. Cardiovascularly, exercise improves the efficiency with which cells use oxygen, lowering demand on the heart. AEROBIC EXERCISE increases LUNG CAPACITY, putting more oxygen into the blood with each breath. Exercise also increases insulin sensitivity, improving cholesterol ratios as well as glucose efficiency. Walking aids the lower extremities in moving blood back to the heart, with the skeletal muscles massaging and supporting the veins that must work against gravity to accomplish this task.
Health experts agree that while the greatest cardiovascular benefits come from lifelong lifestyle habits that support cardiovascular health, it is never too late to make changes that improve cardiovascular status. Even when cardiovascular disease exists, doing lifestyle modifications such as nutritious EATING HABITS, daily physical exercise, WEIGHT LOSS AND WEIGHT MANAGEMENT, and SMOKING CESSATION can mitigate symptoms and allow a more acceptable quality of life.
See also CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE PREVENTION; DIET AND CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH; DIET AND HEALTH; EXERCISE AND HEALTH; HEALTH RISK FACTORS; HEALTHY PEOPLE 2010; PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH; SMOKING AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE.
Resource: Facts On File Encyclopedia Of Health And Medicine
Aerobic Fitness and Cardiovascular System The efficiency with which the cardiovascular system functions to meet the oxygen needs of cells throughout the body, particularly under the increased pressure of intense physical activity or exercise. The higher a person’s aerobic FITNESS LEVEL, the more air the LUNGS can take in each breath, the more oxygen
The most significant age-related changes in cardiovascular function occur at birth in both sexes and with MENOPAUSE in women. Though changes in METABOLISM occur with aging that affect all body systems, researchers now believe cardiovascular health does not inherently decline simply as a function of aging. DIABETES, OBESITY, lack of physical exercise, and
What is Aneurysm and Definition Aneurysm is a weakened and often distended (stretched) area in the wall of an ARTERY. Though an aneurysm may develop in any artery, the most common location is the descending or abdominal AORTA. An aneurysm is potentially life-threatening. The continual pressure of the BLOOD flowing through the artery pressures the weakened
What is Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome - An inherited ARRHYTHMIA disorder in which an extra conduction pathway, called an accessory pathway, exists between the heart’s atria and ventricles. The accessory pathway allows the heart’s electrical pacing impulse to bypass the normal conductive route, reaching the
What is Ventricular Fibrillation Ventricular fibrillation - Rapid, irregular, ineffective contractions of the heart’s ventricles. Ventricular fibrillation quickly becomes fatal without treatment. The HEART cannot pump blood to the LUNGS or to the body when it is in ventricular fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation is a life-threatening event that
What is Ventricular assist devices (VADs) Ventricular Assist Devices - Implanted mechanical pumps that aid the native HEART, taking over some of the workload of the ventricles. Several types of VADs are available, each with somewhat different features and functions. A VAD may assist the right or left ventricle, and in some cases both ventricles, as a
What is Venogram - diagnostic procedure Venogram is a diagnostic procedure to evaluate the flow of blood in the veins, usually in the legs. The cardiologist may use venogram to diagnose VARICOSE VEINS, VENOUS INSUFFICIENCY, or DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS (DVT). For venogram, the radiologist injects a small amount of contrast dye into the affected VEIN network and
What is chronic Venous Insufficiency and Symptoms Venous insufficiency is a chronic condition in which the veins cannot adequately return BLOOD to the HEART, usually as a consequence of defective valves that allow blood to leak back and pool in the veins. Some people do not have valves in their veins, a circumstance that is a CONGENITAL ANOMALY. Venous
Vena Cava are the two largest veins in human body together called the venae. These veins collectively return deoxygenated BLOOD to the HEART. Both of them deplete all the blood into the right atrium. The superior vena cava, large but short vein, brings blood from the upper part of the organism, the head and upper limbs, and empties into the top of the right
What is Vein and Definition Vein - A blood vessel that carries BLOOD to the HEART. All veins except the PULMONARY VEINS carry deoxygenated blood; the pulmonary veins return oxygenated blood to the heart from the LUNGS. Because veins lack the muscular structure and contractile capability of arteries, they have valves that keep blood moving only in one