Upgrading Your Heart (Part Deux)

American Heart MonthOK, Upgraders, it’s time for “Upgrading Your Heart – Part Deux.”  That’s the French word for “two” in case you are a little rusty in the foreign language department.  Keep expanding your mind.  Anyway, February is American Heart Month so the old ticker is our focus here at UpGradedSenior.Com this month.

If you haven’t already read Part I, then I urge you to do so here.  It could reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 83%.

OK, let’s play a little word game.  I keep harping on the need to “exercise your brain” and this well help in that regard.  Do you know the difference between “arteriosclerosis” and “atherosclerosis?”  I didn’t think so.  Frankly, neither did I.  Well, here’s the scoop.

Arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis, simply put, is a stiffening of the arteries which happens, in part, as a natural part of the aging process – at least so says traditional medicine.

One might wonder why stiffer arteries would be a problem.  Heck, for most seniors everything gets stiffer as we age.  Well, there is that one thing for men that doesn’t – oh, never mind!  That can be related to heart disease too, by the way.  Anyway, here’s the problem with stiffer arteries.

The primary site where damage occurs in the body from stiffened arteries is the heart. It takes greater force to cause stiffened arteries to expand in order to receive the blood ejected from the heart with each beat.

This extra force must be provided by your heart, so it begins to contract more forcefully to compensate for the stiffened arteries into which it is pumping blood.

Over time, this extra work can lead to a thickening of the heart wall.  This is known as ventricular hypertrophy.  Ventricular hypertrophy can eventually lead to left ventricular failure.  In case you don’t know, that’s a bad thing!

Thickening of the heart muscle also results in less effective muscle relaxation between heart beats, which makes it difficult for the heart to fill with enough blood to supply the body’s organs.  This can be especially true during periods of exertion or exercise.  What ends up happening is that your body holds on to fluids and your heart rate increases again causing your heart to have to work harder.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a build up of fatty deposits as plaques along the walls of your arteries.  Since two objects can’t occupy the same space at the same time (at least according to the Pauli Exclusion Principle), the more plaque the less blood traveling through your arteries.  This makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to all the parts of your body – including your heart and brain!

Quick Test For Heart Disease Risk

We’ve already discussed heart disease risk factors and possible solutions elsewhere, so I’ll close this post with one quick, down and dirty benchmark to give you an indication of your potential exposure to heart disease.

One risk factor for heart disease which you can measure quickly and without a doctor’s help is your waist measurement. Research has shown that extra fat around the old mid-section increases your risk of heart disease significantly.

So, get up out of that recliner right now and measure your waist.  I’ll wait.  OK, got your measurement?

If you’re a guy and the tape measure gives you a reading of over 40 inches, you’ve got work to do.  If your a woman and the reading is over 35 inches, the same goes for you.  Talk about sex discrimination!

Oh, and no cheating.  When you take that waist measurement, don’t think you can suck in that gut or slip the tape measure up under that beer belly to get a lower reading!  The UpGrading Senior-in-Chief will be watching.  I know your tricks.

Let’s relax those abs (however weak) and put that tape measure around the belly button part of your gut for a true reading.  I know it’s embarrassing, even painful, but not as painful as a heart attack, which could occur if you continue in a state of denial.

If you flunked the test, you’re not alone.  A high percentage of this planet’s occupants, especially in the developed, fast-food, world, are super-sized.  So, don’t beat yourself up, but do get busy Upgrading your Seniordom.  We don’t want to lose you.

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