Checklist for Heart Health Naturally
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. The more researchers learn about this disease, the more we realize the risk factors involved with it are very preventable. Simple lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise and stress reduction, will ensure a happier and much healthier heart and circulatory system.
“A” stands for Hemoglobin A1C, which is a blood test look at blood sugar over a three month period. It is one of the best ways to assess risk of diabetes. Persistent elevated blood sugar puts a strain on the heart and blood vessels. Sixty five percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Controlled blood sugar can help prevent both of these.
“B” is for blood pressure. Within our all vessels is important to promote proper distribution of nutrients throughout of body and remove waste from our system. However, elevated blood pressure can put unwanted stress on the heart and blood vessels. Symptoms of elevated blood pressure can be headaches or dizziness, however often times this condition is silent, with no sign at all of elevated levels. Blood pressure consistently over 140/90 should be discussed with a physician to explore potential underlying causes such as stress, nutrient deficiencies or diet.
Cholesterol has many important roles in the body, including supporting the nervous system and hormone health. However, improper balance of these levels can occur with poor diet, stress and even toxic burden on the body. Creating balance to cholesterol levels, particularly total cholesterol and HDL will help reduce risk of damage to arteries, veins and the heart. Though medications have shown to reduce these levels, addressing the reason for imbalance will not only lower cholesterol levels but also improve the whole person’s health.
Reduce Hidden Inflammation
This risk factor for cardiovascular is often silent. It is associated with stroke, increased risk of miscarriage and depression, though most people are unaware of elevated levels. Folic acid, B12 and B6 can reduce levels; all of these nutrients can be tested with a simple blood test. Often times elevated levels can be genetic and may require specific types of folate to reduce levels.
This marker can be tested in a blood test as well and is a sign of inflammation, often times specific to the cardiovascular system. There are many methods to improve this marker, including dietary changes and increasing omega 3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants.
Increase Activity and Sunshine
According to the NIH, the biggest risk factor for cardiovascular disease is inactivity. Increasing exercise and improving body composition is an excellent way to improve heart health, as well as improve many of the other risk factors listed previously.
Recent research has found that low Vitamin D is associated with cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D is best sourced from supplementation or sunshine, as food is not an excellent source. The best way to know the amount of supplementation to take during the winter is to have your blood levels taken, as this vitamin can be toxic.
This checklist is an excellent start to discussion with your physician about your risk of cardiovascular disease. It also offers a great reminder of how simple lifestyle changes, screening and prevention can ensure better cardiovascular health. Diet, exercise and supporting the body with proper nutrients can help maintain healthy blood vessels and heart.
Dr. Lauren Young is a board certified naturopathic physician, accepting new patients for her family practice in Manchester, CT. Dr. Young is in network with most insurance companies. For an appointment or more information, please call (860)533-0179 or visit www.ctnaturalhealth.com.