heart attack

  • 10 Tips for Preventing Heart Disease

    10 Tips for Preventing Heart Disease Elson M Haas, MD

    Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most common interference with healthy aging and long life in the modern world. Here are a number of proactive ideas and tips to help you prevent the problems associated with heart disease. The triad of primary risk factors is smoking (nicotine addiction), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Even if your parents had high cholesterol or early heart disease, you can override, or at least delay, these influences with a proactive, healthy lifestyle.

    There is a cholesterol controversy between integrative medicine and Western-focused doctors. All believe now that inflammation is the key, and oxidation of cholesterol molecules is really the underlying concern. Most docs believe that statin drugs are the answer to CVD troubles, yet PREVENTION is truly the answer. So, let’s take a look at some ideas and actions for preventing these common problems.

    1. Maintain your ideal weight as closely as possible. If you smoke, do everything in your power to stop.

    2. Minimize your intake of saturated animal fats, especially excessive dairy products, as they seem to raise cholesterol more than other foods. Also avoid hydrogenated oils that clog and stress the cardiovascular system. All of these fats increase both total cholesterol and the harmful form of cholesterol (LDL), especially when oxidized.

    3. Minimize your intake of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods like baked goods, chips, boxed sugared cereals, and other processed foods, as well as the salty snacks from chips to cured meats. These foods contribute to obesity, a leading risk factor for CVD. Avoiding chemical exposure as much as possible will lessen the irritation/inflammation of the blood vessels, believed to be the main starting point of plaque formation and arteriosclerosis of blood vessels, the beginning of cardiovascular disease.

    4. Exercise regularly with a balanced program that includes stretching for flexibility, aerobics for endurance, and weight training for strength. This can help to lower body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Exercise also lowers your harmful cholesterol (LDL) and raises your good cholesterol (HDL). And exercise makes your body, mind, and heart happy.

    5. Eat more high-fiber, high-nutrient, lower-calorie foods, such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits. This diet can help you to live longer.

    6. Get good-quality oils by eating nuts and seeds (ideally raw, unsalted, and organic), such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, as well as omega-3 oily fishes that include salmon and sardines (good with green salads). Use olive oil as your main vegetable and cooking oil.

    7. Nutritional supplements to consider for protection against cardiovascular disease include: antioxidant vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and the B vitamins (especially B-6, B-12, B-3, and folic acid) to maintain normal cholesterol metabolism and minimize homocysteine levels.

    8. Special nutrients that can be helpful in preventing and treating early disease include L-carnitine, Co-enzyme Q-10, chromium, and higher levels of niacin, mainly the regular flushing niacin as this may work better to metabolize blood fats, although many people use the non-flushing (but not time-released) inositol hexanicotinate.

    9. Learn to manage your stress, let go of anger and frustrations, and communicate your feelings in a safe and non-aggressive way. Practice forgiveness and moving forward in life, still being aware of what you have learned from your life experiences (to avoid repeating mistakes in behavior).

    10. Develop close personal relationships that you can count on for support. Continue to expand your ability to give and receive in your friendships/loving relationships. Love is healing at many levels.

  • A Healthy Heart At Every Age

    A Healthy Heart At Every Age Ann Louise Gittleman

    Even if heart disease “doesn't run in your family,” this article is for you. Even if you have low cholesterol levels and your blood pressure is normal, this article is for you, too. This information doubles as both prevention and treatment— and its knowledge is critical for us all.

    In the past, you may have thought of heart disease as an illness that you associated predominately with men. These days, we know that more than one in three women have some form of cardiovascular disease. As of the 2016 fact sheet from the American Heart Association, 398,086 females passed away from cardiovascular disease or congenital cardiovascular disease, with 402,851 males passing away from the same. Further, they've found that 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stoke and that fewer women survive their first heart attack than men. This illness clearly does not favor one gender.

    So, what causes heart disease? Simply put, cardiovascular disease results when the lumens of the coronary arteries, which carry blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart, become smaller. This constriction can be caused by excess salt in the blood pulling fluid from the arteries. Arteries are further constricted by a buildup of fats, oxidized cholesterol, excess calcium, and plaque in the artery walls. Angina, or chest pain, occurs when the heart fails to receive enough oxygen through these narrowed arteries. When these arteries become obstructed, a heart attack can occur, resulting in damage to the heart tissue. This process of plaque buildup and obstruction is known as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

    What Are the Risks?
    There are over 250 risk factors for heart disease that have been identified. However, you'll be relieved to know that a large number of these factors—including many that are especially dangerous—can be lowered with lifestyle choices and changes. However, two risk factors associated with heart disease are beyond your control: heredity and age. For both men and women, the closer your blood-tie to a relative who suffered from heart disease, the greater your risk of developing it. In addition, age is a factor for women. As women reach menopause, their risk factor of developing heart disease rises significantly. Regardless if your family history predisposes you to a higher risk or not or your current age, there are certain risk factors that you should be mindful to pay close attention to. Let's touch on a few that you can begin making changes to reduce today.

    High Blood Pressure
    Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is both a cause and an effect of cardiovascular disease. The exact cause of hypertension is generally unknown, but what we do know is that high blood pressure often accompanies heart disease. The excessive force of the blood against the arteries weakens the cellular walls, allowing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, excess calcium, and other toxic substances to form deposits that eventually block the arteries. Almost 50 percent of all midlife women are diagnosed with hypertension by age 50. Most who have hypertension are unaware of it because it usually produces no physical symptoms. Routine blood pressure checks, at least every two years, can detect potential hypertension; blood pressure readings above 140/90 may spell danger. Because so many test results have shown a direct relationship between high salt intake and hypertension, removing the salt shaker from your table would be wise. Sodium is a factor in hypertension because it causes fluid retention, which adds stress to both the heart and the circulatory system. Hypertension, left undiagnosed or untreated, can result in stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and other serious diseases.

    Smoking
    Let's face facts: if you still smoke, your chances of dying from heart disease are almost three times as great as those of dying from lung cancer. The negative effects of smoking on your cardiovascular system are related to several actions. Nicotine causes blood platelets to become sticky, increasing plaque formation. Smoking also has been shown to decrease levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Cigarettes are high in cadmium, a toxic mineral that damages heart tissue. The Nurses' Health Study, conducted by Harvard researchers, found that women who smoked just one to four cigarettes a day had nearly two and one-half times the rate of heart disease of nonsmokers. Keep in mind that even secondhand smoke increases your risk of heart disease, so make your home and car smoke-free environments.

    Obesity
    Unfortunately for us, weight appears to be a more significant risk factor for women than it is for men. A study by Harvard researcher JoAnn Manson, MD, found that in obese women, seven out of ten cases of heart disease resulted from their excess weight. Even women who are at the high end of their “normal” range seem to have an increased risk. To compound the problem, overweight women tend to be sedentary; they are also more likely to develop hypertension, high LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and type 2 diabetes, all of which increase the likelihood of heart disease. How the weight is distributed on your body also seems to have an impact.

    Women with an apple body shape—who have a proportionally higher amount of fat around their abdomen than elsewhere on their body—have higher rates of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes than their pear-shaped sisters, who carry their excess fat in their hips and thighs. Scientists believe this association relates to the hormone cortisol, which causes fatty acids to be released into the bloodstream from the central fat cells. These cells are located close to your liver; the released fatty acids stress the liver, causing cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin levels to rise. Psychology researcher Elissa S. Epel has also discovered that apple-shaped women feel stress more and produce more cortisol as a result than do pear-shaped women.

    Diabetes
    For us women, diabetes is an additional risk factor for heart disease. Blood platelets in diabetics seem to stick together more readily than in non-diabetics, causing clogging of the arteries. Diabetics also have higher total cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol levels. Research shows that women over the age of 45 are twice as likely as men to develop type 2 (formerly known as adult-onset) diabetes, and female diabetics are at double the risk of heart disease of male diabetics. The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be managed with diet and exercise.

    A Sedentary Lifestyle
    Movies depicting life on the nineteenth-century American frontier and Canadian wilderness are harsh reminders of just how physically demanding everyday life once was. We might enjoy watching someone else chop wood, carry buckets of water long distances, and walk behind a plow horse, but few of us would trade in our computers, microwave ovens, and central heating to live that life. All our muscles, including our heart, need exercise, however. Exercise helps lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Regular aerobic exercise—such as walking, running, jumping rope, and dancing—reduces the risk of heart disease by about 30 percent in postmenopausal women. It also influences several other risk factors.

    People who exercise regularly have a 35 percent lower risk of hypertension, as well as a lower risk of diabetes. Exercise stimulates production of serotonin, endorphins, and other brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and stress and create a balanced sleep-wake cycle, helping to control cortisol levels. When you exercise, you also aid calcium metabolism, triggering the calcification process within your bones so excess calcium does not build up in your blood vessels. And you don't even need to spend one to two hours a day in strenuous activity to achieve cardiovascular benefits. Do keep in mind that over exercising can be just as harmful as being a couch potato. Moderate exercise, performed regularly, significantly decreases your risk of heart disease.

    No matter your age, stage, and gender, it's import to make daily choices that love your heart and your health.

  • Kyolic Aged Garlic’s Hypertension Benefits Confirmed

    Kyolic Aged Garlic’s Hypertension Benefits Confirmed Hypertension. It's a primary risk factor for stroke and heart attack—and it affects nearly one in three Americans. 1,2 Among those who have been diagnosed with hypertension, about half don't have their condition under control.1 Of more concern, an estimated 18 percent of those with the condition are unaware that they suffer from high blood pressure.3 That's not surprising since hypertension often has no tangible symptoms. And nearly 30 percent of American adults suffer from pre-hypertension, a condition that puts them at risk of developing clinical hypertension.2 While pharmaceuticals can bring the pressure down, recent studies show that a daily dose of Kyolic aged garlic extract (AGE) safely and effectively reduces blood pressure and benefits a number of other cardiovascular risk factors.

    Findings slated to be presented at the 5th Science of Nutrition in Medicine and Healthcare Conference in Australia, provide clear evidence that supplementing with AGE can effectively reduce blood pressure levels. In addition, AGE has a positive impact on arterial stiffness. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which was jointly conducted by Australia's National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Bond University, and the University of Australia, divided 88 patients with uncontrolled hypertension into two groups. One group was given 1.2 grams of AGE daily and the other was given a placebo. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that the patients taking AGE saw an average 11.5 mmHg reduction in their systolic blood pressure and an average 6.3 mmHg drop in their diastolic blood pressure compared to placebo. In addition, the study's authors note that AGE improved pulse wave velocity, a measure of arterial stiffness. The study also flushed out smaller benefits to the inflammatory marker TNF-α, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and apolipoproteins—all factors that increase the risk of a future heart attack.4

    Another study recently presented at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session & Expo lends further evidence to Aged Garlic Extract's ability to lower blood pressure. During the study, which was conducted at the Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, four placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized studies were pooled to examine AGEs effect on blood pressure. The studies involved a total of 161 people who were randomized to take either 1,000 mg of AGE or a placebo daily for one year. All of the subjects had their blood pressure checked at the beginning and the end of the study. Testing was also done to determine the progression of coronary artery calcification. One year later, the UCLA researchers noted marked reductions in diastolic blood pressure among the participants who took AGE. Coronary artery calcification was also significantly lower in those who had taken the AGE supplements. In fact, AGE inhibited the progression of coronary artery calcification an average 1.78 fold compared to the placebo over the course of the study.5 These findings build upon previous research in the journal Maturitas which found that AGE reduced systolic blood pressure an average of 10.2 mm Hg compared to placebo, leading the researchers to conclude that AGE offers benefits similar to first-line medication used to treat uncontrolled hypertension.6

    References

    1. CDC: Vital signs: awareness and treatment of uncontrolled hypertension among adults—United States, 2003–2010. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6135a3.htm.
    2. CDC: Deaths: Final data for 2009. www.cddc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr60/nvsr60_03.pdf.
    3. Yoon SS, Burt V, Louis T, et al. Hypertension Among Adults in the United States, 2009–2010. NCHS data brief, no 107. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
    4. Ried K, Travica N, Sali A. Aged Garlic Extract for hypertension and arterial stiffness: The AGE at heart trial. Scheduled for presentation at The 5th Science of Nutrition in Medicine and Healthcare Conference. Pullman Melbourne on the Park, Australia. May 2–3, 2015.
    5. Hom C, Luo Y, Budoff M. The Effects of Aged Garlic Extract on Coronary Artery Calcium Progression and Blood Pressure. Presented at ACC.15 64th Annual Scientific Session & Expo. San Diego, CA March 14–16, 2015.
    6. Ried K, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension: a randomized controlled trial. Maturitas. 2010;67(2):144–50.