Keep Your Circulatory System Young!

According to the Dept. of Health & Children, disease of the circulatory system accounts for 41% of all deaths in Ireland and is the leading cause of death in the country. This is a staggering statistic, especially in light of the current body of evidence that early detection and lifestyle modification can prevent untimely death and disability.

While medical and surgical interventions are necessary and useful in many cases, being proactive through lifestyle modification is by far the most effective way of both preventing and reversing these disease processes. Our blood chemistry is largely the result of what we put into and how we treat our bodies and making small, sustainable, changes over a period of time can make a huge difference in whether we end up the victim of a heart attack or stroke. If you are over forty you may want to consider having a physical and bloods run to access your current blood pressure level, total fats in the blood stream, etc. Doppler ultrasound screening of the carotid artery is a well-established method to diagnose carotid artery plaque buildup, which gives a good indication of stroke potential. This diagnostic process is currently available in Ireland as well.

Making small changes over time can add up to big advantages for our health.  Several things that any of us can start to do that will begin to move us in a direction away from disease of the circulatory system are:
  • Quit smoking
  • Increase fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet—five or six servings a day are recommended
  • Increase the use of whole grains, nuts and seeds in the diet
  • Drink enough water—five or six glasses a day, or more depending on weather and activity level
  • Decrease the consumption of refined fats and sugars
  • Decrease salt consumption
  • Decrease or discontinue alcohol consumption
  • Decrease or eliminate caffeine consumption
  • Regular aerobic exercise—at least five times a week, walking is great!
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Get adequate sleep

The key is not to try to change too much too fast. Small, sustainable changes in lifestyle that move us toward healthier blood chemistry will add up to increased good health and quality of life as we age! See also:

http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/healthpromotion/