Systemic Vascular Resistance: The Breakdown
Systemic vascular resistance is the amount of resistance during blood flow in systemic vasculature. This, of course excludes pulmonary vasculature. See, systemic vasculature is merely the arterial portion of the cardiovascular system, which carries oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, toward various tissues. This diffusion of oxygen is vital for energy production (ATP), among many other very important purposes.
Pulmonary vasculature is the portion of the cardiovascular system that carries oxygen-poor blood, or deoxygenated blood away from tissues, toward the heart. Deoxygenated blood will enter the heart in the right atria, then the right ventricle, then the pulmonary artery. It is here that the deoxygenated blood will go to the lungs to become oxygenated again so it can then enter systemic vasculature to restart the cycle again.
Systemic vascular resistance greatly influences the fluency of blood flow throughout systemic and pulmonary vasculature. The greater resistance, the more difficult it is for blood to flow through uninterrupted. In contrast, the less resistance, the easier it is for blood to flow through systemic circulation. There are many different factors that contribute to the constriction or dilation of systemic vasculature.
For instance, if you engage in exercise, you can then expect your systemic vascular resistance to increase significantly due to constriction of the arteries. So, an increase in systemic vascular resistance will increase cardiac output and blood pressure as well, among several other things. Now that you know how systemic vascular resistance can influence different physiological phenomena, I’d now like to show you how certain cardiovascular risk factors can influence systemic vascular resistance as well.
How high cholesterol affects systemic vascular resistance
If your cholesterol is considered high (>239), then you can expect to have greater systemic vascular resistance. This is mainly due to plaque buildup on the walls of your arteries. This buildup of plaque hinders the natural flow of blood as it moves through systemic circulation. And remember, systemic circulation is where oxygenated blood provides oxygen and nutrients to working tissues in the body. So, you’ll obviously want absolutely nothing blocking this pathway. Such an occurrence can cause cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke.
This is why it’s imperative that you get your cholesterol checked to ensure that you’re on top of your health and are well aware of your body’s status quo. Cardiovascular disease is one of the top killers in America, and having high cholesterol is a risk factor that puts you at risk for developing such a disease. Among other risk factors are family history, how much physical activity you get, whether or not you’re a smoker, your age, waist circumference, and blood pressure, among others.
Some very effective ways to lower cholesterol is by cutting out foods that are high in saturated fats, like fast food. You should try to eat foods that are low in saturated fats and are high in poly- and mono-unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are very healthy for your heart and are very potent at helping you to improve your cholesterol levels. Exercise is also a very effective measure that you should implement. It can be anything from an intense 60 minute workout session to a short walk around the park. The key is to simply get moving. Ideally, aerobic exercise is one of the best modes of exercise for helping you to lower cholesterol.
How to improve systemic blood flow
Systemic vascular resistance (systemic blood flow) can be greatly hindered by high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This can cause a lot of health issues if left untreated. The only true way to find out where you stand with these values are to get them tested. To get your cholesterol tested, you’ll need to get blood work done. Getting your blood pressure checked is as simple as taking a ride to the pharmacy and using their blood pressure monitor. If your blood pressure is in the 80-120/60-80 range, then you’re in good shape as these are the normal ranges.
Depending on whether or not you have any of these ailments or any cardiovascular or metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes), you should make sure you’re eating enough fruit and vegetables throughout the day. These foods contain heart healthy fiber that will help you lower your cholesterol insurmountably. It’s also a very healthy snack to consider instead of salty chips or sodium filled soda. Making these small changes will help you improve your heart health tenfold.
Also, eating foods that are low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats are also very beneficial for overall heart health and systemic circulation as well. And don’t for get about exercise! Engaging in some sort of exercise is vital to attaining and maintaining a healthy heart. Systemic vascular resistance influences a lot of different things in the body, from mean arterial pressure, pulse pressure, rate pressure product, stroke volume, and much more. Keep your systemic vasculature healthy by making the right lifestyle choices today. Your heart will thank you later.