Cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death in developed countries. Cardiovascular diseases refer to all the conditions that affect the heart itself and blood vessels. Your heart is a constantly working muscle, the performance and longevity of which is determined by the life style factors that you expose it to. A healthy diet and lifestyle factors are the two main elements that determine your cardiovascular health. Those who develop cardiovascular diseases are not able to enjoy life to the fullest because their cardiac output does not allow them to.

Here are some tips to maintain your cardiovascular health in the long term.

1.Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night

On average, adults require 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night. Depriving your body of its required amount and quality of sleep can have dire consequences on your cognition, physiology and cardiovascular health. Research has established a strong link between sleep and risk of cardiovascular diseases. A study inferred that adult, middle aged individuals who got 7 hours of sleep a night had lesser calcium in their arteries than those who slept 5 or less hours and even those who slept 9 or more hours. One of the early signs of heart disease is having a reduced amount of calcium in the arteries. So, excessive sleep can be just as harmful as lack of sleep.

2.Quit smoking

Smoking accelerates the deterioration of your cardiovascular health. It is one of the top risk factors for cardiovascular diseases but, the silver lining is, it is controllable. Smoking is injurious to your overall health and not just your cardiovascular health. It has been shown to cause atherosclerosis which is the excessive deposition of plaque containing cholesterol, fat in the arteries. This deposition reduces the cross sectional areas of the arteries and makes them narrower. Therefore, the heart has to work harder to distribute blood around the body, placing strain on it.  Smoking has been shown to double the risk of a heart attack and triple the risk of stroke.

3.Stay active and eat healthy

Take your dog out for a walk on a regular basis, pick up a retirement sport or do whatever you can do get some exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is amongst the top 5 major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases along with obesity, smoking, high blood lipid levels and hypertension. Exercise not only prevents a sedentary lifestyle, but also tackles the aforementioned risk factors. People who exercise regularly are less likely to be obese and can also deal with hypertension by improving the heart’s performance. Additionally, regular exercise will also take care of the low density lipoproeteins. Research has even shown it can also improve the regulation of blood glucose which can prevent diabetes.

For maximum effect, couple your regular exercise with a healthy diet. These two things can synergistically control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Reduce your salt intake to avoid hypertension. Use healthy fats instead of the bad ones. When cooking, use olive oil – it’s a lot easier on the heart.