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Tips for a Healthy Heart

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What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a broad term encompassing any diseases involving the heart and blood vessels. This can be anything from heart attacks and strokes, to coronary artery disease and simply high blood pressure. Currently, CVD is the leading cause of death in the United States and is the number one cause of death in women. Despite countless medications available, it continues to be a pressing issue in health today.

Facts about Heart Disease

Who is at risk for heart disease?

Think you are safe from heart disease because you don’t have high cholesterol? Think again. Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a well-known integrative cardiologist, stated that more than half of those who experience heart attacks and strokes have normal cholesterol levels.

So what really puts you at risk?

Artery with Atherosclerosis

 

Among uncontrollable factors such as genetics, experts believe that low-grade internal inflammation within the body can put you at serious risk. This inflammation weakens arterial plaques within the blood vessels and eventually causes them to rupture, causing heart attacks and strokes.  The mechanism that is thought to cause the inflammation is the body’s normal immune response to arterial plaque. The body sees this build up as abnormal, and in order to protect the blood, proteins of the immune system form a wall around the plaque. However, when this wall ruptures and plaque comes into contact with blood, it may form clots, often leading to cardiovascular events. The good news is that this inflammation is certainly preventable, and even reversible in some cases, though it could take some time.

How can I reduce my risk for heart disease?

Some factors that contribute to this inflammation include sugar consumption, food allergies, toxins, hidden gastrointestinal infections, neurotransmitter imbalance, and hormone deficiencies. Implementing a healthy lifestyle that addresses this inflammation may reduce your risk of heart disease. Dr. Sinatra suggests these tips for living a heart healthy lifestyle:

Regular Exercise

The most prevalent risk factor for heart disease is inactivity. Exercise does the heart a tremendous amount of good. It lowers blood pressure, raises good cholesterol in the body, and lowers triglyceride levels, which are all essential in avoiding heart disease.

Diet Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

It has been preached for years that Omega-3s are amazing for heart health. Why? Omega-3 fatty acids are known to play a role in preventing arrhythmias, which are responsible for the majority of cardiac deaths each year. They reduce the rate at which plaque builds up in arteries, which is responsible for clogging blood flow leading to strokes and heart attacks. They also decrease blood pressure, lower triglyceride levels, and ease inflammation, all of which may lead to prevention of atherosclerosis.

Detoxification

We live in a world of toxins. These toxins enter our bodies via the water we drink, the food we ingest, and even the air we breathe. While our immune system is constantly working to rid our body of these impurities, added detoxification by sweating, eating good fiber to cleanse our colons, and supporting our liver and kidneys that help to flush these toxins may help in maintaining a healthy heart.

Earthing

Earthing is simply reconnecting physically with the Earth. Allowing the Earth’s free electrons to enter the body can synchronize the body’s bioelectrical systems and reduce inflammation. By altering the blood’s electrical charge, Earthing improves its fluidity and flow within the vascular system. This practice may also have calming effects in sympathetic nervous systems that are overactive. Better flow in blood vessels and calming overexcited neurotransmitters can lead to a healthier heart.

Balancing Mind and Body

Maintaining a healthy mind and positive outlook can do wonders for your overall well-being. Your body as a whole is a communication network between the nervous system, the endocrine system, the immune system, and almost every physiological system. When there is an imbalance in our biochemistry, it can lead to several risk factors of heart disease.  Dr. Sharon Norling, a member of Sanesco International’s clinical advisory board, presented information from Duke University Medical Center 2004 in her webinar on heart disease that patients with low serotonin have an increase in circulating immune proteins that are contributors to atherosclerosis. Research by Lett et al. 2004 also found that patients who are melancholy tend to have premature onsets of disorders such as coronary artery disease. Keeping a positive attitude and ensuring a healthy neuroendocrine system is one more step in preventing heart disease.

Targeted Nutritional Supplements

In order to obtain a balanced mind, the proper nutrients and vitamins must be available to the body. No one diet is perfect, and more often than not, supplementation will need to be added for optimal outcomes for a healthy heart – and lifestyle. In order to ensure the most effective nutritional supplements are being implemented, it is best to gain insight into what your body needs. That is where the word “targeted” comes in. Every individual is unique and requires a health plan fit for his or her personal needs.

 

References:

Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. (2015, June 15). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp#.Vs8pj_krKM9

Holloway, B., RN. (n.d.). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Coronary Heart Disease. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3054

Inflammation and Heart Disease. (2015, August 13). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Inflammation-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_432150_Article.jsp#.Vs4qLPkrKM8

Lett, H.S., Blumenthal, J.A., Babyak, M.A. et al, Depression as a risk factor for coronary artery disease: Evidence, mechanisms, and treatment. Psychosom Med. 2004;66:305–315.

Norling, S., MD, MBA. (2010, January 19). Omega Fatty Acids as a Powerful Adjunct to the CSM Model in Managing Mood Disorders. Lecture presented at Sanesco 2010 Webinar Series.

Norling, S., MD, MBA. (2016, February 24). Relationship of Heart Disease to Neurotransmitters and Hormones. Lecture presented at Sanesco 2016 Webinar Series.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution. (2016). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/

Sinatra, S. (2015, August 10). Heart Healthy Lifestyle Tips. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.drsinatra.com/healthy-heart-lifestyle-tips/

Watkins, R., MD, MPH, FAAFP. (2010, October 26). CSM and Cardiovascular Disease. Lecture presented at Sanesco 2010 Webinar Series.

Matters of Your Heart [American Heart Association/American Stroke Association]. (2012). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adt/documents/downloadable/ucm_441514.jpg

[Artery Narrowed by Atherosclerosis]. (2012, September 4). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://whatcardiologyis.com/coronary-artery-disease-2/

 

Clinical Contributor

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Ramona Richard, MS, NC

Ramona Richard, MS, NC

Ramona Richard graduated with honors from the University of California with a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s Degree in Health and Nutrition Education. She also holds a Standard Designated Teaching Credential from the State of California, is a California state-certified Nutrition Consultant and a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Ramona has participated in nutrition education in both public and private venues, including high school and college presentations, radio and public speaking for the past 20 years. She is the owner of Radiance, a nutrition consulting company, the Director of Education for Sanesco International, and a medical technical writer.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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