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How to Get More Blood & Oxygen to the Heart

Increasing blood and oxygen flow to the heart can strengthen the cardiovascular system and help the heart work more efficiently. Individuals with certain medical conditions and those with unhealthy lifestyles are the most likely to suffer from decreased blood and oxygen flow to the heart. Luckily, medical intervention and lifestyle changes can help turn this around 3.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Avoid medical conditions such as high cholesterol, which causes fatty deposits (or plaque) to build up in the arteries. This makes it harder for the arteries to send oxygen-carrying blood to the heart, increasing the possibility of a heart attack. Exercising and eating healthy foods low in cholesterol and saturated fat can help lower blood cholesterol, although cholesterol-lowering medication will probably have to be prescribed by your doctor to fully unclog your arteries.

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Seek treatment for panic-disorder, stress and anger-management problems, which can reduce blood and oxygen flow to the heart. If you suffer from frequent panic disorders, your rapid, shallow breathing makes it hard for the the heart to receive enough blood or oxygen. Your doctor may suggest therapy or anxiety-controlling medications to help reduce the frequency of panic attacks. Stress and/or anger can also cause shallow, rapid breathing that, over time, can damage the heart due to decreased oxygen and blood supply. Deep breathing, medication, yoga and tai chi, as well as getting plenty of sleep and having a strong support group, can help individuals manage stress and anger.

Get at least 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three to five times a week. Like your biceps or hamstrings, the human heart is a muscle and needs to be worked out. In addition to pumping lots of oxygen-rich blood to your heart during physical activity, exercising strengthens the heart and allows it to work more efficiently, even when you're not working out, ensuring that the heart always has a plentiful supply of blood and oxygen.

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Quit smoking. Like high cholesterol, smoking causes fatty deposits to build up in the arteries, which means the arteries have a lot more difficulty pumping oxygenated blood to the heart, resulting in the heart receiving decreased levels of blood and oxygen. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit smoking, such as using a smoking patch, seeing a therapist or making lifestyle changes.

Employ oxygen therapy to increase oxygen supply to the heart. If your doctor determines that blood and oxygen flow to your heart cannot be improved through exercise, healthy food choices, controlling blood cholesterol levels or quitting smoking, you may need to use an oxygen tank temporarily, part-time or permanently, depending on how much oxygen your heart is receiving. An oxygen tank allows the individual to breathe in pure oxygen, which increases blood and oxygen supply to the heart and minimizes the side effects of poor blood and oxygen flow, such as muscle cramps, stroke, brain damage or heart attack. Oxygen therapy should be considered a last resort and should only be employed if your doctor determines that heart damage is extensive and cannot be reduced through other, less extreme options.