The human heart is about the size of a clenched fist. It is located under the breastbone between the lungs (just left of center) and is made up of four chambers. Blood flows through these chambers in a pattern that supplies all parts of the body with oxygenated blood and returns blood to the lungs for re-oxygenation.
There are two types of blood vessels, arteries and veins. Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart and are elastic, which enables them to withstand the pressure of blood being pumped with force.
Veins carry back to the heart. By the time blood reaches the veins, blood pressure has dropped. Veins are not elastic, but have small valves that keep the de-oxygenated blood from flowing backwards.
When kept healthy and strong, the body's network of veins and arteries should work as efficiently in an older body as a younger one.
Take care of your heart.
The body's ingenious design means skin, muscle and a sturdy ribcage protects the heart from injury. The real risk to the health of our heart comes not from injury, but from failing to take proper care of this vital organ.
Happily, maintaining a healthy heart is simply simple, and it's never too late to start. Do you smoke? If you do, the first step is to quit. Even occasional smoking has been proven to be detrimental to the health of your heart. Regular exercise is essential to help maintain weight and keep the heart strong. It is also important to limit fats in the diet particularly animal fats derived from meat and full fat dairy foods.
Enjoying health to a ripe old age is common in many Mediterranean communities where diet is based on olive oil, vegetables, fish, nuts, fruits, grains and pulses. Many doctors and naturopaths believe that it's the low levels of cholesterol that make the Mediterranean diet an excellent model for those wishing to maintain their cardiovascular health.
Include in your diet:
Seasonal fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens, broccoli, zucchini, onions, red and white cabbage, cucumber, potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potatoes.
Fresh fruit, rich in antioxidants.
Fish, particularly oily varieties such as sardines, mackerel and salmon.
Fresh herbs, especially parsley, mint, basil, thyme, coriander, oregano and dill.
Whole grains cereals, brown rice, oats, wholemeal bread and pasta, millet, buckwheat and barley.
Lean meat, chicken and eggs.
Nuts and seeds, small amounts of almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
Sea vegetables, nori, arame and wakame.
Soy foods and tofu.
Keep to a minimum:
Full fat dairy foods.
Refined white flour products, white bread, pasta, biscuits and cakes.
Saturated fats, butter, matured cheeses, fatty meats and fried foods.
Exercise is extremely important for the maintenance of a healthy cardiovascular system. In addition to keeping the heart itself strong, exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, which reduce pressure on the heart. You do not need to become gym junkie. A brisk 30 minute walk at least three times a week can make a huge difference to your health.
Supplement with CoQ10:
CoQ10 occurs naturally in the body and levels decline with age. A CoQ10 supplement assays in maintaining a healthy heart, in particular the function of the heart muscle. CoQ10 has been shown to reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol.