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frankzappa

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  1. Perhaps no area of exercise science has been more studied than the benefits of aerobic exercise. There is a mountain of evidence to prove that regular aerobic exercise will improve your health, your fitness, and much more. Here's a partial list of the documented health benefits of aerobic exercise. Cancer prevention Colon cancer. Research is clear that physically active men and women have about a 30%-40% reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer compared with inactive individuals. It appears that 30-60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity is needed to decrease the risk, and there is a dose-response relationship, which means that the risk declines the more active you are. Breast cancer. There is reasonably clear evidence that physically active women have a greater reduction in risk compared with inactive women. Like colon cancer, it appears that 75 to 150 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity is needed to decrease the risk, and it is likely that there is a dose-response relationship as well. Prostate cancer. Research is inconsistent regarding whether physical activity plays any role in the prevention of this cancer. Lung cancer. There are relatively few studies on physical activity and lung cancer prevention. The available data suggest that physically active individuals have a lower risk of lung cancer; however, it is difficult to completely account for the risks of active and passive cigarette smoking as well as radon exposure. Other cancers. There is little information on the role of physical activity in preventing other cancers. Cancer treatment There's some good news for people undergoing cancer treatment. In one study, aerobic exercise performed five days per week for 30-35 minutes for six weeks at 80% of maximal heart rate reduced fatigue in women being treated for cancer. In another study, 10 weeks of aerobic exercise at 60% of maximum heart rate for 30-40 minutes, four days per week, reduced depression and anxiety in female cancer patients. Aerobic exercise isn't a panacea when it comes to cancer, but evidence suggests that it certainly can help.
  2. Aerobic exercise is any activity that stimulates your heart rate and breathing to increase but not so much that you can't sustain the activity for more than a few minutes. Aerobic means "with oxygen," and anaerobic means "without oxygen." Anaerobic exercise is the type where you get out of breath in just a few moments, like when you lift weights for improving strength, when you sprint, or when you climb a long flight of stairs. A caveat Dancing, swimming, water aerobics, biking, walking, hiking, climbing steps (two at a time for a more vigorous workout), low-impact dance classes, kick-boxing, all the cardio machines at the gum (treadmill, elliptical, bike, rower, x-c skiing, stair-climber), and many other activities are all examples of types of aerobic or cardio activities, but they can be anaerobic too if they are performed at a high enough intensity. Try riding your bike alongside Lance Armstrong in the French Alps and you'll know what anaerobic exercise means in moments. But then again, riding along on your bike at a leisurely 8-10 mph on the boardwalk at the seashore is the same activity, but at a much lower intensity, much lower heart rate, and much lower oxygen consumption, and so in this case, biking is aerobic. The bottom line is that the intensity at which you perform an activity determines if it's aerobic or anaerobic.
  3. I mentioned that fat and carbohydrate are the fuels our muscles burn. The difference between them is that fat is high-test; it contains 9 calories per gram whereas carbohydrate has only 4, and so you get more energy and can go farther on a gram of fat than on a gram of carbohydrate. You want to burn fat because it's such an efficient fuel, plus it's nice to lose some of your excess fat! The catch is that you need more oxygen to burn fat because it's denser than carbohydrate. The good news is that your body gets better at using oxygen and burning fat when you do regular aerobic exercise; like I described, your heart pumps more blood, your muscles consume more oxygen, and you have more mitochondria.
  4. How our bodies adapt Here's what happens inside your body when you do aerobic exercise regularly: Your heart gets stronger and pumps more blood with each beat (larger stroke volume). Elite athletes, as I just mentioned, can have stroke volumes more than twice as high as average individuals. But it's not just that. Conditioned hearts also have greater diameter and mass (the heart's a muscle too and gets bigger when you train it), and they pump efficiently enough to allow for greater filling time, which is a good thing because it means that more blood fills the chambers of the heart before they pump so that more blood gets pumped with each beat. Greater stroke volume means the heart doesn't have to pump as fast to meet the demands of exercise. Fewer beats and more stroke volume mean greater efficiency. Think about a pump emptying water out of a flooded basement. The pump works better and lasts longer if it can pump larger volumes of water with each cycle than if it has to pump faster and strain to get rid of the water. High stroke volume is why athletes' hearts don't pump as fast during exercise and why they have such low resting heart rates; sometimes as low as 40 beats per minute, whereas the average is 60-80 beats per minutes. Downstream from the heart are your muscles, which get more efficient at consuming oxygen when you do regular aerobic exercise (remember, "consuming" oxygen means that the muscles are taking the oxygen out of the blood). This happens because of an increase in the activity and number of enzymes that transport oxygen out of the bloodstream and into the muscle. Imagine 100 oxygen molecules circulating past a muscle. You're twice as fit if the muscle can consume all 100 molecules than if it can only consume 50. Another way of saying it is that you're twice as fit as someone if your VO2 max is 60ml/kg/min. and theirs is 30ml/kg/min. In terms of performance in this scenario, you'll have more endurance because your muscles won't run out of oxygen as quickly. Mitochondria inside the muscle increase in number and activity. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. They do all the heavy-duty work to keep you moving. They use the oxygen to burn the fat and carbohydrate that makes you go. The good news is that they increase in number and activity, by as much as 50%, in just a matter of days to weeks in response to regular aerobic exercise in adults of all ages.
  5. Aerobic (cardiovascular) fitness is one of the most important components of physical fitness.The other components are muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility and low-back function. Cardiovascular fitness is measured as the amount of oxygen transported in the blood and pumped by the heart to the working muscles and as the efficiency of the muscles to use that oxygen. Increasing cardiovascular fitness means increasing the capability of the heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system in their most important task, to supply oxygen and energy to your body. Having good cardiovascular fitness has many health benefits. For example, it decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. Cardiovascular fitness is best improved by activities, which employ large muscle groups working dynamically. Such activities include walking, jogging, running, swimming, skating, cycling, stair climbing and cross-country skiing. The heart is like any other muscle - it becomes stronger and more efficient after practice. Heart rate is a quantitative measure of heart's work. At rest a healthy heart of an average individual beats approximately 70 beats per minute. A conditioned heart beats much less at rest, only 40 to 50 beats per minute or even less. Heart rate variability is a quality measure of heart's work. The lower the resting heart rate the higher the heart rate variability, and thus the better the quality of heart's functions. Cardiovascular fitness is related to age, gender, exercise habits, heredity and cardiovascular clinical status. Maximum values occur between ages 15 and 30 years, decreasing progressively with age. At the age of 60, the mean maximal aerobic power in men is approximately three fourths of that at the age of 20. With sedentary lifestyle, there is a 10 % reduction in the mean maximal aerobic power per decade, the reduction with an active lifestyle being less than 5 %.
  6. Mental health Studies have shown that physical activity can improve mental health and well-being.This improvement is due to an increase in blood flow to the brain and the release of hormones. Being physically fit and working out on a consistent and constant basis can positively impact one's mental health and bring about several other benefits, such as the following. Physical activity has been linked to the alleviation of depression and anxiety symptoms. In patients suffering from schizophrenia, physical fitness has been shown to improve their quality of life and decrease the effects of schizophrenia. Being fit can improve one's self-esteem. Working out can improve one's mental alertness and it can reduce fatigue. Studies have shown a reduction in stress levels. Increased opportunity for social interaction, allowing for improved social skills To achieve some of these benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests at least 30-60 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week.
  7. Weight control Achieving resilience through physical fitness promotes a vast and complex range of health-related benefits. Individuals who keep up physical fitness levels generally regulate their distribution of body fat and stay away from obesity. Abdominal fat, specifically visceral fat, is most directly affected by engaging in aerobic exercise. Strength training has been known to increase the amount of muscle in the body, however, it can also reduce body fat.Sex steroid hormones, insulin, and an appropriate immune response are factors that mediate metabolism in relation to the abdominal fat. Therefore, physical fitness provides weight control through regulation of these bodily functions. Menopause and physical fitness Menopause is often said to have occurred when a woman has had no vaginal bleeding for over a year since her last menstrual cycle. There are a number of symptoms connected to menopause, most of which can affect the quality of life of a woman involved in this stage of her life. One way to reduce the severity of the symptoms is to exercise and keep a healthy level of fitness. Prior to and during menopause, as the female body changes, there can be physical, physiological or internal changes to the body. These changes can be reduced or even prevented with regular exercise. These changes include: Preventing weight gain: around menopause women tend to experience a reduction in muscle mass and an increase in fat levels. Increasing the amount of physical exercise undertaken can help to prevent these changes. Reducing the risk of breast cancer: weight loss from regular exercise may offer protection from breast cancer. Strengthening bones: physical activity can slow the bone loss associated with menopause, reducing the chance of bone fractures and osteoporosis. Reducing the risk of disease: excess weight can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and regular physical activity can counter these effects. Boosting mood: being involved in regular activities it can improve psychological health, an effect that can be seen at any age and not just during or after menopause. The Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project provided evidence that showed over an eight-year time period 438 were followed. Even though the physical activity was not associated with VMS in this cohort at the beginning. Women who reported they were physically active every day at the beginning were 49% less likely to have reported bothersome hot flushes. This is in contrast to women whose level of activity decreased and were more likely to experience bothersome hot flushes.
  8. Inflammation Studies have shown an association between increased physical activity and reduced inflammation. It produces both a short-term inflammatory response and a long-term anti-inflammatory effect. Physical activity reduces inflammation in conjunction with or independent of changes in body weight. However, the mechanisms linking physical activity to inflammation are unknown. Immune system Physical activity boosts the immune system. This is dependent on the concentration of endogenous factors (such as sex hormones, metabolic hormones and growth hormones), body temperature, blood flow, hydration status and body position. Physical activity has shown to increase the levels of natural killer (NK) cells, NK T cells, macrophages, neutrophils and eosinophils, complements, cytokines, antibodies and T cytotoxic cells. However, the mechanism linking physical activity to immune system is not fully understood.
  9. Cancer prevention Centers for disease control and prevention provide lifestyle guidelines of maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in physical activity to reduce the risk of disease. The WCRF/ American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) published a list of recommendations that reflect the evidence they have found through consistency in fitness and dietary factors that directly relate to cancer prevention. The WCRF/AICR recommendations include the following: Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight. Each week, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity. Children should engage in at least one hour of moderate or vigorous physical activity each week. Be physically active for at least thirty minutes every day. Avoid sugar, and limit the consumption of energy packed foods. Balance one's diet with a variety of vegetables, grains, fruits, legumes, etc. Limit sodium intake, the consumption of red meats and the consumption of processed meats. Limit alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women a day. These recommendations are also widely supported by the American Cancer Society. The guidelines have been evaluated and individuals that have higher guideline adherence scores substantially reduce cancer risk as well as help towards control with a multitude of chronic health problems. Regular physical activity is a factor that helps reduce an individual’s blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels, two key components that correlate with heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The American Cancer Society encourages the public to "adopt a physically active lifestyle" by meeting the criteria in a variety of physical activities such as hiking, swimming, circuit training, resistance training, lifting, etc. It is understood that cancer is not a disease that can be cured by physical fitness alone, however, because it is a multifactorial disease, physical fitness is a controllable prevention. The large associations tied with being physically fit and reduced cancer risk are enough to provide a strategy to reduce cancer risk. The American Cancer Society asserts different levels of activity ranging from moderate to vigorous to clarify the recommended time spent on a physical activity. These classifications of physical activity consider the intentional exercise and basic activities are done on a daily basis and give the public a greater understanding of what fitness levels suffice as future disease prevention.
  10. High intensity interval training (HIIT) consists of repeated, short bursts of exercise, completed at a high level of intensity. These sets of intense activity are followed by a predetermined time of rest or low intensity activity. Studies have shown that exercising at a higher intensity has increased cardiac benefits for humans, compared to when exercising at a low or moderate level. When your workout consists of an HIIT session, your body has to work harder to replace the oxygen it lost. Research into the benefits of HIIT have revealed that it can be very successful for reducing fat, especially around the abdominal region. Furthermore, when compared to continuous moderate exercise, HIIT proves to burn more calories and increase the amount of fat burned post- HIIT session. Lack of time is one of the main reasons stated for not exercising; HIIT is a great alternative for those people because the duration of an HIIT session can be as short as 10 minutes, making it much quicker than conventional workouts
  11. Controlling blood pressure Physical fitness has proven to result in positive effects on the body's blood pressure because staying active and exercising regularly builds up a stronger heart. The heart is the main organ in charge of systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Engaging in a physical activity raises blood pressure. Once the subject stops the activity, the blood pressure returns to normal. The more physical activity that one engages in, the easier this process becomes, resulting in a more ‘fit’ individual. Through regular physical fitness, the heart does not have to work as hard to create a rise in blood pressure, which lowers the force on the arteries, and lowers the overall blood pressure.
  12. Training Specific or task-oriented fitness is a person's ability to perform in a specific activity with a reasonable efficiency: for example, sports or military service. Specific training prepares athletes to perform well in their sport. Examples are: 100 m sprint: in a sprint, the athlete must be trained to work anaerobically throughout the race, an example of how to do this would be interval training. Century Ride: cyclists must be prepared aerobically for a bike ride of 100 miles or more. Middle distance running: athletes require both speed and endurance to gain benefit out of this training. The hard-working muscles are at their peak for a longer period of time as they are being used at that level for the longer period of time. Marathon: in this case, the athlete must be trained to work aerobically and their endurance must be built-up to a maximum. Many firefighters and police officers undergo regular fitness testing to determine if they are capable of the physically demanding tasks required of the job. Members of armed forces are often required to pass a formal fitness test. For example, soldiers of the US Army must be able to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Hill sprints: requires a level of fitness to begin with; the exercise is particularly good for the leg muscles. The army often trains to do mountain climbing and races. Plyometric and isometric exercises: An excellent way to build strength and increase muscular endurance. Sand running creates less strain on leg muscles than running on grass or concrete. This is because sand collapses beneath the foot, softening the landing. Sand training is an effective way to lose weight and become fit, as more effort is needed (one and a half times more) to run on the soft sand than on a hard surface. Aquajogging is a form of exercise that decreases strain on joints and bones. The water supplies minimal impact to muscles and bones, which is good for those recovering from injury. Furthermore, the resistance of the water as one jogs through it provides an enhanced effect of exercise (the deeper you are the greater the force needed to pull your leg through). Swimming: Squatting exercise helps in enhancing a swimmer's start. For physical fitness activity to benefit an individual, the exertion triggers a response called a stimulus. Exercise with the correct amount of intensity, duration, and frequency can produce a significant amount of improvement. The person may overall feel better, but the physical effects on the human body take weeks or months to notice and possibly years for full development. For training purposes, exercise must provide a stress or demand on either a function or tissue. To continue improvements, this demand must eventually increase little over an extended period of time. This sort of exercise training has three basic principles: overload, specificity, and progression. These principles are related to health but also enhancement of physical working capacity.
  13. Aerobic exercise Cardiorespiratory fitness can be measured using VO2 max, a measure of the amount of oxygen the body can uptake and utilize. Aerobic exercise, which improves cardiorespiratory fitness, involves movement that increases the heart rate to improve the body's oxygen consumption. This form of exercise is an important part of all training regiments ranging from professional athletes to the everyday person. Also, it helps increase stamina. Examples are: Jogging – Running at a steady and gentle pace. This form of exercise is great for maintaining weight. Elliptical training – This is a stationary exercise machine used to perform walking, or running without causing excessive stress on the joints. This form of exercise is perfect for people with achy hips, knees, and ankles. Walking – Moving at a fairly regular pace for a short, medium or long distance. Treadmill training – Many treadmills have programs set up that offer numerous different workout plans. One effective cardiovascular activity would be to switch between running and walking. Typically warm up first by walking and then switch off between walking for three minutes and running for three minutes. Swimming – Using the arms and legs to keep oneself afloat and moving either forwards or backward. This is a good full body exercise for those who are looking to strengthen their core while improving cardiovascular endurance. Cycling – Riding a bicycle typically involves longer distances than walking or jogging. This is another low-stress exercise on the joints and is great for improving leg strength. Sprinting - Running short distances as fast as possible Anaerobic exercise Anaerobic exercise is a physical exercise intense enough to cause lactate to form. It is used by athletes in non-endurance sports to promote strength, speed and power and by body builders to build muscle mass. Muscle energy systems trained using anaerobic exercise develop differently compared to aerobic exercise, leading to greater performance in short duration, high intensity activities, which last from mere seconds to up to about 2 minutes. Any activity lasting longer than about two minutes has a large aerobic metabolic component
  14. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans were created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. This publication recommends that all adults should avoid inactivity to promote good health mentally and physically. For substantial health benefits, adults should participate in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week. New (July 2011) guidelines in the United Kingdom include the following points: The intensity at which we exercise is key, and light activity such as strolling and housework is unlikely to have much positive impact on the health of most people. For aerobic exercise to be beneficial it must raise your heartbeat and make you sweat. The more exercise you do, the better. Everyone should do a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise but that really is the minimum for health benefits. If you can go beyond 150 minutes, you’ll gain even more health benefits. Sedentary time (time spent sitting down to watch TV, use a computer, read or listen to music) is bad for your health, even for those who are achieving 150 minutes of exercise a week. These guidelines, are now much more in line with those used in the US, also include recommendations for muscle-building and bone strengthening activities such as lifting weights and yoga. The US guidelines continue: For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
  15. Physical fitness is a state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports, occupations and daily activities. Physical fitness is generally achieved through proper nutrition, moderate-vigorous physical exercise, and sufficient rest. Before the industrial revolution, fitness was defined as the capacity to carry out the day’s activities without undue fatigue. However, with automation and changes in lifestyles physical fitness is now considered a measure of the body's ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations. Fitness is defined as the quality or state of being fit. Around 1950, perhaps consistent with the Industrial Revolution and the treatise of World War II, the term "fitness" increased in western vernacular by a factor of ten. The modern definition of fitness describes either a person or machine's ability to perform a specific function or a holistic definition of human adaptability to cope with various situations. This has led to an interrelation of human fitness and attractiveness that has mobilized global fitness and fitness equipment industries. Regarding specific function, fitness is attributed to persons who possess significant aerobic or anaerobic ability, i.e. endurance or strength. A well-rounded fitness program improves a person in all aspects of fitness compared to practicing only one, such as only cardio/respiratory endurance or only weight training. A comprehensive fitness program tailored to an individual typically focuses on one or more specific skills, and on age- or health-related needs such as bone health. Many sources also cite mental, social and emotional health as an important part of overall fitness. This is often presented in textbooks as a triangle made up of three points, which represent physical, emotional, and mental fitness. Physical fitness can also prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging. Working out can also help some people sleep better and possibly alleviate some mood disorders in certain individuals. Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines, which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and various anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.
  16. Preparing for your appointment Some types of heart disease will be discovered without an appointment — for example, if a child is born with a serious heart defect, it will be detected soon after birth. In other cases, your heart disease may be diagnosed in an emergency situation, such as a heart attack. If you think you have heart disease or are worried about your heart disease risk because of your family history, see your family doctor. You may be referred to a heart specialist (cardiologist). Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment. What you can do Be aware of pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. You may need to fast before a cholesterol test, for example. Write down symptoms you're experiencing, including any that seem unrelated to heart disease. Write down key personal information — including a family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes — and major stresses or recent life changes. Make a list of medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking. Take someone along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help you remember information you're given. Be prepared to discuss your diet and your smoking and exercise habits. If you don't already follow a diet or exercise routine, talk to your doctor about getting started. Write down questions to ask your doctor. For heart disease, some basic questions to ask your doctor include: What is likely causing my symptoms or condition? What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition? What tests will I need? What's the best treatment? What foods should I eat or avoid? What's an appropriate level of physical activity? How often should I be screened for heart disease? For example, how often do I need a cholesterol test? What are alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting? I have other health conditions. How do I manage them together? Are there restrictions that I need to follow? Should I see a specialist? Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing? Are there brochures or other materials that I can have? What websites do you recommend? Don't hesitate to ask other questions. What to expect from your doctor Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as: When did your symptoms begin? Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional? How severe are your symptoms? What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms? What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms? Do you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or other serious illness? What you can do in the meantime It's never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active. These are primary lines of defense against heart disease and its complications.
  17. Coping and support You may feel frustrated, upset or overwhelmed upon learning you or your loved one has heart disease. Fortunately, there are ways to help cope with heart disease or improve your condition. These include: Cardiac rehabilitation. For people who have cardiovascular disease that's caused a heart attack or has required surgery to correct, cardiac rehabilitation is often recommended as a way to improve treatment and speed recovery. Cardiac rehabilitation involves levels of monitored exercise, nutritional counseling, emotional support, and support and education about lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart problems. Support groups. Turning to friends and family for support is essential, but if you need more help, talk to your doctor about joining a support group. You may find that talking about your concerns with others with similar difficulties can help. Continued medical checkups. If you have a recurring or chronic heart condition, regularly check in with your doctor to make sure you're properly managing your heart condition.
  18. Lifestyle and home remedies Heart disease can be improved — or even prevented — by making certain lifestyle changes. The following changes can help anyone who wants to improve heart health: Stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, especially atherosclerosis. Quitting is the best way to reduce your risk of heart disease and its complications. Control your blood pressure. Ask your doctor for a blood pressure measurement at least every two years. He or she may recommend more frequent measurements if your blood pressure is higher than normal or you have a history of heart disease. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, as measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Check your cholesterol. Ask your doctor for a baseline cholesterol test when you're in your 20s and then at least every five years. You may need to start testing earlier if high cholesterol is in your family. If your test results aren't within desirable ranges, your doctor may recommend more frequent measurements. Most people should aim for an LDL level below 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.4 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). If you have other risk factors for heart disease, you should aim for an LDL below 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L). If you're at very high risk of heart disease — if you've already had a heart attack or have diabetes, for example — aim for an even lower LDL level — below 70 mg/dL (1.8 mmol/L). Keep diabetes under control. If you have diabetes, tight blood sugar control can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Move. Exercise helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and control diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure — all risk factors for heart disease. If you have a heart arrhythmia or heart defect, there may be some restrictions on the activities you can do, so talk to your doctor. With your doctor's OK, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Eat healthy foods. A heart-healthy diet based on fruits, vegetables and whole grains — and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugar — can help you control your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease. A BMI of less than 25 and a waist circumference of 35 inches (88.9 centimeters) or less is the goal for preventing and treating heart disease. Manage stress. Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice techniques for managing stress, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Deal with depression. Being depressed can increase your risk of heart disease significantly. Talk to your doctor if you feel hopeless or uninterested in your life. Practice good hygiene. Stay away from people with infectious diseases such as colds, get vaccinated against the flu, regularly wash your hands, and brush and floss your teeth regularly to keep yourself well. Also, get regular medical checkups. Early detection and treatment can set the stage for a lifetime of better heart health.
  19. Treatment Heart disease treatments vary by condition. For instance, if you have a heart infection, you'll likely be given antibiotics. In general, treatment for heart disease usually includes: Lifestyle changes. These include eating a low-fat and low-sodium diet, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake. Medications. If lifestyle changes alone aren't enough, your doctor may prescribe medications to control your heart disease. The type of medication will depend on the type of heart disease. Medical procedures or surgery. If medications aren't enough, it's possible your doctor will recommend specific procedures or surgery. The type of procedure will depend on the type of heart disease and the extent of the damage to your heart.
  20. Diagnosis The tests you'll need to diagnose your heart disease depend on what condition your doctor thinks you might have. No matter what type of heart disease you have, your doctor will likely perform a physical exam and ask about your personal and family medical history before doing any tests. Besides blood tests and a chest X-ray, tests to diagnose heart disease can include: Electrocardiogram (ECG). An ECG records these electrical signals and can help your doctor detect irregularities in your heart's rhythm and structure. You may have an ECG while you're at rest or while exercising (stress electrocardiogram). Holter monitoring. A Holter monitor is a portable device you wear to record a continuous ECG, usually for 24 to 72 hours. Holter monitoring is used to detect heart rhythm irregularities that aren't found during a regular ECG exam. Echocardiogram. This noninvasive exam, which includes an ultrasound of your chest, shows detailed images of your heart's structure and function. Stress test. This type of test involves raising your heart rate with exercise or medicine while performing heart tests and imaging to check how your heart responds. Cardiac catheterization. In this test, a short tube (sheath) is inserted into a vein or artery in your leg (groin) or arm. A hollow, flexible and longer tube (guide catheter) is then inserted into the sheath. Aided by X-ray images on a monitor, your doctor threads the guide catheter through that artery until it reaches your heart. The pressures in your heart chambers can be measured, and dye can be injected. The dye can be seen on an X-ray, which helps your doctor see the blood flow through your heart, blood vessels and valves to check for abnormalities. Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan. This test is often used to check for heart problems. In a cardiac CT scan, you lie on a table inside a doughnut-shaped machine. An X-ray tube inside the machine rotates around your body and collects images of your heart and chest. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). For this test, you lie on a table inside a long tube-like machine that produces a magnetic field. The magnetic field produces pictures to help your doctor evaluate your heart.
  21. Prevention Certain types of heart disease, such as heart defects, can't be prevented. However, you can help prevent many other types of heart disease by making the same lifestyle changes that can improve your heart disease, such as: Quit smoking Control other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes Exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week Eat a diet that's low in salt and saturated fat Maintain a healthy weight Reduce and manage stress Practice good hygiene
  22. Complications Complications of heart disease include: Heart failure. One of the most common complications of heart disease, heart failure occurs when your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. Heart failure can result from many forms of heart disease, including heart defects, cardiovascular disease, valvular heart disease, heart infections or cardiomyopathy. Heart attack. A blood clot blocking the blood flow through a blood vessel that feeds the heart causes a heart attack, possibly damaging or destroying a part of the heart muscle. Atherosclerosis can cause a heart attack. Stroke. The risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease also can lead to an ischemic stroke, which happens when the arteries to your brain are narrowed or blocked so that too little blood reaches your brain. A stroke is a medical emergency — brain tissue begins to die within just a few minutes of a stroke. Aneurysm. A serious complication that can occur anywhere in your body, an aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of your artery. If an aneurysm bursts, you may face life-threatening internal bleeding. Peripheral artery disease. Atherosclerosis also can lead to peripheral artery disease. When you develop peripheral artery disease, your extremities — usually your legs — don't receive enough blood flow. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking (claudication). Sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness, often caused by an arrhythmia. Sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency. If not treated immediately, it is fatal, resulting in sudden cardiac death
  23. Risk factors Risk factors for developing heart disease include: Age. Aging increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle. Sex. Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease. However, women's risk increases after menopause. Family history. A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age (before age 55 for a male relative, such as your brother or father, and 65 for a female relative, such as your mother or sister). Smoking. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, and carbon monoxide can damage their inner lining, making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers. Certain chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy for cancer. Some chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapies may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Poor diet. A diet that's high in fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease. High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the vessels through which blood flows. High blood cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of formation of plaques and atherosclerosis. Diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure. Obesity. Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors. Physical inactivity. Lack of exercise also is associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its other risk factors, as well. Stress. Unrelieved stress may damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease. Poor hygiene. Not regularly washing your hands and not establishing other habits that can help prevent viral or bacterial infections can put you at risk of heart infections, especially if you already have an underlying heart condition. Poor dental health also may contribute to heart disease.
  24. Causes How the heart works Your heart is a pump. It's a muscular organ about the size of your fist, situated slightly left of center in your chest. Your heart is divided into the right and the left side. The division prevents oxygen-rich blood from mixing with oxygen-poor blood. Oxygen-poor blood returns to the heart after circulating through your body. The right side of the heart, comprising the right atrium and ventricle, collects and pumps blood to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries. The lungs refresh the blood with a new supply of oxygen. The lungs also breathe out carbon dioxide, a waste product. Oxygen-rich blood then enters the left side of the heart, comprising the left atrium and ventricle. The left side of the heart pumps blood through the aorta to supply tissues throughout the body with oxygen and nutrients. Heart valves Four valves within your heart keep your blood moving the right way by opening only one way and only when they need to. To function properly, the valve must be formed properly, must open all the way and must close tightly so there's no leakage. The four valves are: Tricuspid Mitral Pulmonary Aortic Heartbeats A beating heart contracts and relaxes in a continuous cycle. During contraction (systole), your ventricles contract, forcing blood into the vessels to your lungs and body. During relaxation (diastole), the ventricles are filled with blood coming from the upper chambers (left and right atria). Electrical system Your heart's electrical wiring keeps it beating, which controls the continuous exchange of oxygen-rich blood with oxygen-poor blood. This exchange keeps you alive. Electrical impulses begin high in the right atrium and travel through specialized pathways to the ventricles, delivering the signal for the heart to pump. The conduction system keeps your heart beating in a coordinated and normal rhythm, which keeps blood circulating. Various heart disease causes The causes of heart disease vary by type of heart disease. Causes of cardiovascular disease While cardiovascular disease can refer to different heart or blood vessel problems, the term is often used to mean damage to your heart or blood vessels by atherosclerosis (ath-ur-o-skluh-ROE-sis), a buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries. Plaque buildup thickens and stiffens artery walls, which can inhibit blood flow through your arteries to your organs and tissues. Atherosclerosis is also the most common cause of cardiovascular disease. It can be caused by correctable problems, such as an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking. Causes of heart arrhythmia Common causes of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or conditions that can lead to arrhythmias include: Heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects) Coronary artery disease High blood pressure Diabetes Smoking Excessive use of alcohol or caffeine Drug abuse Stress Some over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies Valvular heart disease In a healthy person with a normal, healthy heart, it's unlikely for a fatal arrhythmia to develop without some outside trigger, such as an electrical shock or the use of illegal drugs. That's primarily because a healthy person's heart is free from any abnormal conditions that cause an arrhythmia, such as an area of scarred tissue. However, in a heart that's diseased or deformed, the heart's electrical impulses may not properly start or travel through the heart, making arrhythmias more likely to develop. Causes of congenital heart defects Congenital heart defects usually develop while a baby is in the womb. Heart defects can develop as the heart develops, about a month after conception, changing the flow of blood in the heart. Some medical conditions, medications and genes may play a role in causing heart defects. Heart defects can also develop in adults. As you age, your heart's structure can change, causing a heart defect. Causes of cardiomyopathy The cause of cardiomyopathy, a thickening or enlarging of the heart muscle, may depend on the type: Dilated cardiomyopathy. The cause of this most common type of cardiomyopathy often is unknown. It may be caused by reduced blood flow to the heart (ischemic heart disease) resulting from damage after a heart attack, infections, toxins and certain drugs. It may also be inherited from a parent. It usually enlarges (dilates) the left ventricle. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This type, in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, usually is inherited. It can also develop over time because of high blood pressure or aging. Restrictive cardiomyopathy. This least common type of cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle to become rigid and less elastic, can occur for no known reason. Or it may be caused by diseases, such as connective tissue disorders, excessive iron buildup in your body (hemochromatosis), the buildup of abnormal proteins (amyloidosis) or by some cancer treatments. Causes of heart infection A heart infection, such as endocarditis, is caused when an irritant, such as a bacterium, virus or chemical, reaches your heart muscle. The most common causes of heart infection include: Bacteria Viruses Parasites Causes of valvular heart disease There are many causes of diseases of your heart valves. You may be born with valvular disease, or the valves may be damaged by conditions such as: Rheumatic fever Infections (infectious endocarditis) Connective tissue disorders
  25. When to see a doctor Seek emergency medical care if you have these heart disease symptoms: Chest pain Shortness of breath Fainting Heart disease is easier to treat when detected early, so talk to your doctor about your concerns regarding your heart health. If you're concerned about developing heart disease, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to reduce your heart disease risk. This is especially important if you have a family history of heart disease. If you think you may have heart disease, based on new signs or symptoms you're having, make an appointment to see your doctor.
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