Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada and worldwide, but it’s not entirely inevitable. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to enhance your cardiovascular health and lower your chances of developing heart disease. To help get you started, we’ve listed our top three tips for enhancing cardiovascular health.
Eat a Heart-healthy Diet
Eating a heart-healthy diet not only tastes great but does wonders for your cardiovascular health in the long term. It can help improve your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, decrease inflammation (that can often lead to oxidized cholesterol and disease), and decrease your risk of developing diabetes. Heart-healthy tips include:
- Avoid all seed oils (canola, sunflower, safflower etc.)
- Eat a diet low in the glycemic index to keep insulin low. This means limiting sugar, pasta, bread, grains and other carbohydrates.
- Consume adequate protein including meat and fish.
- Don’t fear fat!
- Reduce dairy intake if it causes problems for your digestion.
- Cut out packaged, refined and processed foods.
Eating a heart-healthy diet isn’t just about increasing your intake of certain foods, however, and you’ll want to limit how much salt, sugar, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, saturated fat, and trans fats you consume. In short, pay attention to what you eat, and your heart will thank you for it.
We’ve all heard about the benefits of regular exercise, and if you’re looking to enhance your cardiovascular health, there’s simply no way around it. Exercise gets the blood pumping and keeps your heart healthy and strong by lowering the chances of developing conditions that strain it. The general recommendation is to get at least half an hour to an hour of exercise a day. Ideally, you’ll want to aim for at least two hours of light to moderate cardio, an hour of high-intensity cardio, and at least an hour of strength training a week.
Getting to that level of activity does require some building up, however. And even if you aren’t able to commit to an hour a day, there’s still plenty of things you can do to help. For instance, get into the habit of taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Do some extra gardening or cleaning around the house or take your dog out on longer walks. Even as little as five minutes of extra movement a day can contribute to a healthier heart.
Get a Full Cardio Blood Panel
Enhancing your cardiovascular health isn’t just about eating right and getting enough exercise. It’s just as important to regularly monitor your heart health to lower your risk of heart disease. One of the easiest ways you can do this is by regularly testing your cholesterol level. However, studies have shown that up to 50% of people that suffer heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol levels. The reason behind this is that certain harmful lipoproteins simply do not show up on standard cholesterol tests.
The Lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) test is one of the most advanced cardiovascular tests available. Rather than simply measuring cholesterol levels, the LPP test measures the lipoprotein particles in your blood directly. By measuring the number and density of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in your body, you’re able to get a much more accurate picture of your cardiovascular risk. This allows you to more accurately determine whether you’re at risk of heart disease and take effective countermeasures before it’s too late.
At Calgary Integrative Medicine, we offer full cardio blood panels (including LPP panels) through our partnered laboratories to better serve our patients. Book a consultation with one of our specialists today to find out more about how getting a full cardio panel can help lower your risk of heart disease and enhance your overall cardiovascular health.