The circulatory system is essential to the body, transporting vital oxygen to every part. But as we age, certain changes may take place within the circulatory system that obstruct its smooth function.
Fortunately, it’s possible to offset many of these changes with healthy habits. Discover the importance of circulation health and how you can maintain it below.
Why Is Good Circulation Important?
Our very existence depends on a healthy circulatory system. Circulation ensures our organs, muscles, and tissues all receive the blood and oxygen they need to keep working well, and therefore keep us alive. A healthy circulatory system also helps the body remove waste products, including carbon dioxide and chemical byproducts naturally created by your organs.
The circulatory system comprises three independent circuits that work together:
- Pulmonary circuit: This circuit transports blood from the heart to the lungs to receive oxygen; pulmonary veins then transport oxygenated blood back to the heart, where it can be sent to the rest of the body.
- Systemic circuit: Blood with oxygen, nutrients, and hormones travel from the heart throughout other parts of the body in this circuit. The blood also picks up waste products in the veins as the body uses up nutrients.
- Coronary circuit: This circuit provides the heart with oxygenated blood, then returns blood that needs more oxygen back to the right atrium, or upper chamber, of the heart to restart the process.
The body relies on proper circulation for optimal functioning. When you experience poor circulation, a number of health issues can ensue. While poor circulation isn’t a condition in itself, it can be caused by other issues, such as diabetes, arterial issues, and heart conditions.
How Can You Maintain Circulation Health?
There are several things you can do to support circulatory health. Here are a few simple yet effective ways to start.
Be physically active.
Aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity in each week. This doesn’t have to include high-intensity exercise: walking, gardening, and dancing are some activities to consider. Try to avoid long periods of sitting, which can slow circulation and cause blood to pool in the feet and legs.
The chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products can lead to atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the arteries which impedes blood flow. It also increases the risk for peripheral artery disease, another condition that can restrict circulation. Regardless of how long or how much you’ve smoked, quitting can benefit your circulatory health, and these benefits continue to improve over time.
Eat a heart-healthy diet.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet can help your circulatory system perform its best and help you maintain a healthy weight. The American Heart Association recommends a diet mainly composed of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and minimally processed foods. Limiting added sugars, salt, and alcohol is also advised.
Control chronic conditions.
Certain chronic conditions can affect components of the circulatory system. In diabetes, for example, high blood sugar levels cause fatty deposits to form within the blood vessels, which cause them to narrow and harden, reducing blood flow. High blood pressure can also damage arteries by reducing their elasticity, decreasing blood flow as well. Controlling these and other chronic conditions that affect circulation through medication and lifestyle changes can help to ensure a healthy heart and blood vessels.
As leaders in circulatory health, Vascular Surgical Associates helps patients experiencing conditions that affect their circulation, including peripheral artery disease. Find out how we can help you promote strong circulatory health by connecting with us online, or calling (770) 423-0595 to schedule an appointment.