VA Maryland Health Care System is promoting veterans’ heart health this month, and has come up with a list of nine interesting tips that anyone can do to improve their cardiovascular health.
“Exercise can be simple routines like walking up to 30 minutes a day,” said Dr. Shawn Robinson, cardiology section chief at VAMHCS. “Other physical activities such as swimming, biking or even household chores are also beneficial because they involve the body moving, exercising muscles and burning calories.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control has calculated that someone in the U.S. suffers a coronary event every 25 seconds. Heart attack rates among younger women ages 35 to 54 have been rising steadily over the past two decades.
“Many people don’t realize that stress is a risk factor for heart disease,” Dr. Michael Miller, staff cardiologist at VAMHCS said. “When you’re under a great deal of stress, blood pressure tends to increase, you’re more likely to light up if you’re a smoker, others will stop exercising and replace their veggies with ‘comfort foods’ that raise blood lipids,” Miller says.
VA Maryland’s nine interesting tips to promote heart health:
- Potatoes contain a specific chemical compound that lowers blood pressure and slows aging of our brains.
- Fermented foods such as cabbage and sauerkraut neutralize gut flora, complex microorganisms that live in the digestive tract, responsible for chemical byproducts that promote hardening of the arteries.
- Garlic lowers cholesterol and blood pressure but to obtain this effect, the garlic should be crushed and lightly sautéed in oil rather than taken as a supplement.
- Pungent spices such as capsaicin found in chili peppers, horseradish and wasabi activates energy-burning fat to reduce waist size.
- The combination of walking and strength training reduces a woman’s risk of developing diabetes by two-thirds.
- Hugging releases oxytocin, a hormone that not only elevates our spirits but also regenerates heart muscle. Oxytocin may be the miracle cure for a broken heart.
- Listening to soothing music reduces inflammation and episodes of heart failure.
- Laughing triggers the expansion of our blood vessels to keep arteries young and flexible.
- Participating in medical research is great for the heart because a person receiving a “placebo” has a 30-50 percent lower risk of a heart attack than a non-participant of similar age and gender.
VAMHCS recommends that all adults get a heart health screening every year by their primary doctor to check height, weight, blood pressure, an inventory of cigarette smoking, exercise and nutrition habits, and blood cholesterol and sugar levels, if necessary.
The VA Maryland Health Care System is comprised of two medical centers, one rehabilitation and extended care center, and six outpatient clinics.