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Medical Magazine

[August 2019] Vascular Health-Friendly Lifestyle
Date 08-06-2019 14:14 Hit753
Vascular Health-Friendly Lifestyle

Blood vessels extend from the heart throughout the body. The blood transported by these vessels is essential to our vital functions. Therefore, vascular health is a central key to vitality. Let us explore what lifestyle changes we must make to maintain our vascular health.

Blood Vessels and Blood: The Engine of Life

The total length of blood vessels in a single human body varies from person to person, but it generally ranges from 100,000 to 120,000 kilometers, equivalent to circling the Earth two-and-a-half to three times. The volume of blood in a body is approximately eight percent of bodyweight and it travels through these vessels daily. Considering that the heart beats about 70 times a minute on average, the heart pumps over 100,000 times a day to send blood to every single part, tip, nook, and cranny of the body. The oxygen we inhale and the nutrients we take in from food are transported to all parts of our body by this flow of blood, keeping us vital and alive.
Cerebral and cardiac vessels are particularly essential to life, with even the slightest damage to them capable of doing us grave harm. Strokes (resulting from the blockage or bursting of cerebral vessels), and angina and myocardial infarction (both resulting from cardiovascular problems) are well known as highly fatal diseases.

Five Principles of Daily Life for Vascular Health

1. Beware hypertension.

Hypertension is defined by a persistently elevated blood pressure, reaching 140 mmHg systolic and not falling below 90 mmHg diastolic. The majority of hypertension patients are unaware that they have, or are at the risk of having, hypertension. If you believe you are at risk, you must take extra caution with your health, regularly checking your blood pressure levels and making a conscious choice to maintain your health. Age, family history, obesity, and smoking are common risk factors of hypertension.

2. Watch your cholesterol and fat intake.

High cholesterol and the amount of fat you intake increase the viscosity of blood. The cholesterol in blood can build up in blood vessels, increasing the risks of a host of vascular diseases. There are two types of cholesterol: the high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as the “good cholesterol,” and the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as the “bad cholesterol.” Rise in LDL is a major risk factor of various diseases. Triglycerides, which are carbohydrates and fat, are synthesized in the body and are what raise the LDL level and break HDL down to harm blood vessels.
As cholesterol is something that is synthesized in the liver rather than digested in the intestines, it is more important to avoid foods rich in LDL cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans-fat. Foods to avoid include those made with animal entrails and fried fast food.

3. Maintain a healthy bodyweight.

Increases in bodyweight can disrupt cellular functions in the linings of blood vessels and the blood glucose-regulating function of insulin, which expedites the aging of blood vessels.
A normal, healthy weight to maintain can be estimated using the body mass index (BMI), obtained by dividing weight by the square of the height. The normal BMI range differs from country to country, and a BMI of 19 to 25 is considered normal in Korea.

4. Exercise regularly.

Exercising is the most basic way to prevent illness and maintain health. Exercises of certain intensity are essential to making the heart pump blood and dilating blood vessels, thereby reinforcing cardiac function and health. It is important to exercise for a certain period of time on a daily basis. The recommended amount is a daily exercise of at least 30 minutes performed four to five times a week.

5. Quit smoking and drink less.

Carbon monoxide, when inhaled, interferes with the blood’s function to carry oxygen throughout the body. Deficiencies in oxygen supplies to vital organs, such as the brain and the heart, can lead to serious and fatal complications, such as myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, and cardiac arrest. Cigarette smoke is the most common source of carbon monoxide in daily life. It is absolutely essential to quit smoking, for yourself and others around you.
Excessive drinking also adversely affects cardiovascular health. Avoid drinking more than one or two glasses at a time.