Posted on by Paula Gallagher
February is American Heart Month, a time when we tend to focus more on cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, in the United States, heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than 600,000 people die from heart disease each year. This is equivalent to one out of every four deaths. The COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated this situation by reducing normal access to healthcare resources, as well as keeping many of us indoors and living a potentially less-healthy lifestyle, including getting enough exercise.
It is therefore all-the-more imperative to know how to protect your heart and prevent heart disease.
There are many risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, and being overweight or obese. These risk factors can often be changed or controlled by making healthy choices like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and not smoking.
It's Important to Know your Numbers
As noted above, hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the leading risks for heart disease and strokes. It also affects millions of Americans and usually has no symptoms. This is why it is important to know your blood pressure and have it checked regularly. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is 130 over 80 mm Hg, or higher. However, the OPTIMAL blood pressure is 120 over 80, or lower.
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every 4 to 6 years. Your doctor will give you a personalized target depending on you, your lifestyle, and your medical history. However, in general, you want to hit the following targets:
- LDL (bad) cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL (good) cholesterol: higher than 60 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. It also increases your risk of other heart-health red flags, such as high blood pressure. However, you do not have to have diabetes to be at risk of heart disease. Consistently high blood sugar levels damage arteries, so the danger starts before diabetes is diagnosed. Americans should talk to their doctors about checking blood glucose levels. Guidelines for testing blood sugar are based on diabetes risk.
Another important factor in preventing heart disease is knowing your family history. If you have a parent or sibling who has had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, you are at increased risk for developing heart disease yourself. There are also some things you cannot change about your risk for heart disease, such as your age or gender.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to protect your heart! There are many things you can do to lower your risk for heart disease, such as eating nutritious foods, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco products.
Exercise and nutrition are two key components in heart health. Exercise helps keep our hearts strong by pumping blood through our bodies and keeping our blood pressure normal. Nutrition is important because it helps us maintain a healthy weight, which is critical for reducing the risk of heart disease. Eating a healthy diet also means eating foods that are good for our hearts, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.
Another important factor in keeping our hearts healthy is managing stress levels. When we are overly stressed, the body releases hormones that can damage our hearts over time. Techniques such as yoga or meditation can help us reduce stress levels and keep our hearts healthy.
Regular medical checkups are also important for keeping track of heart health. Checking blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly can help us catch any problems early on and make any necessary adjustments to our lifestyle habits or medication dosages, accordingly.
Omega-3s, particularly in fish oils, can improve chronic inflammation by significantly changing the molecules that play a role in creating an inflammatory response. Omega-3s found in fish oils also trick the eicosanoid pathway into producing anti-inflammatory signals. The eicosanoid pathway is responsible for turning on and off inflammation. Evidence shows that heart disease is a result of too much C-reactive protein in the body, which is a response to inflammation.
Ubiquinol CoQH is a powerful antioxidant that combats free radicals and protects healthy living cells. Medications and certain diseases can affect how your body oxidizes CoQ10 (ubiquinone) as you age. Ubiquinol CoQH can help improve antioxidant support and cellular energy production.
Magnesium is also important for heart health. Magnesium helps to keep the heart rhythm regular and lowers blood pressure.
Cardio Support Formula
Taking a formula that contains heart protective nutrients can be beneficial, as well as convenient. Cardio Support supplies many heart-healthy nutrients, including folic acid, vitamins B-12 and B6, and green tea extract. Folic acid, vitamin B-12 and B-6 regulate healthy blood homocysteine levels. Green tea extract contains the potent antioxidant, EGCG, as well as L-carnitine, which helps produce energy for cardio health.
Consider a lab test such as this CardioMetabolic Health Profile, which assesses risk factors so that you can best take targeted action. If you have been diagnosed with or have a family history of diabetes, inflammation, obesity, heart disease, stroke, blood clots, high blood pressure or fatty liver disease, this test is highly recommended.
Before taking any supplements, talk to your primary health practitioner to make sure your are doing what is best for your situation. For more information on supplements, lifestyle choices and lab testing, contact Village Green Apothecary.
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