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Affairs of the Heart

Feb 6, 2018 | The Pointe

By Fitness Manager Matt Struemph

The heart symbolizes much more than an organ.  It represents the emotion of love, both being in love and lost love when broken.  Emotional affairs of the heart are complex to say the least.  The physiology of the heart is much more controllable.  We can make decisions that improve heart health that are not dependent on another person.  Let’s examine a few physiological affairs of the heart that you can control.

Improving Endurance

The heart is just part of the system that affects one’s cardiovascular endurance.  Endurance is improved through training the body to uptake more oxygen and use that oxygen more efficiently for energy when delivered to the muscles.  The heart’s role in this system is to have a say in the amount of oxygen being delivered.  Stroke volume is one of the ways the heart controls the amount of oxygen delivered.  Stroke volume is the amount of blood delivered with each heartbeat.  The higher the stroke volume (oxygen carrying blood), the more oxygen is available to muscles.  The heart also increases oxygen delivery by beating faster.  Cardiac output is a function of stroke volume and heart rate.  No matter your fitness condition, cardiac output is increased when you begin exercising via an increased heart rate.  As your heart muscle is conditioned, however, stroke volume increases due to a more forceful beat emptying the chamber (left ventricle) more completely with each beat.  Taking this all into consideration, this is why our resting heart rates decrease as we become more physically fit.  Improving cardiac output via increased stroke volume will deliver more oxygen to muscles performing an activity. 

Keeping Rhythm

It’s not called a heart ‘beat’ for nothing.  Just like a good drummer in a band, the heart’s rhythm is important to the whole group.  Heart rate will increase and decrease, but a steady rhythm is important no matter the heart rate.  Each heart beat is a result of an electrical impulse.  When this impulse is out of whack, there could be underlying issues that range from an imbalance of electrolytes to far more serious conditions including onset of a heart attack.  There are many different types of arrhythmias.  They may be associated with side effects including dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue.  Do these sound familiar?  Check out signs of a heart attack and note the similarities.  It is important to get arrhythmias diagnosed especially when they are associated with side effects.  You may find you have control via dietary changes or finding ways to reduce stress levels.  If your heart rate decides to jump around and be a rag time drummer, find out how serious it is.  You might be able to take steps to keep yours from marching to the beat of a different drummer.  

Cardiovascular Health Risks

The list of items that effect heart health is extensive.  The list is very easy to access as well.  Almost every item on the list can be controlled by lifestyle choices.  The bad news is that it is possible to find that you are linked to many of the items.  The good news is that many of the items are related.  Improving upon one will improve others.

When it comes to affairs of the heart, take control.  Love yourself enough to make necessary lifestyle changes.  Doing so will result in a happier, healthier you.

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