I am often asked by patients, “How can I have a healthy heart?”. It makes a lot of sense to go over this information, as it may be helpful to some people, and that makes it worthwhile. After all, heart disease is the number one cause of death, and is larger than the next 5 causes of death even when totaled together. The American Heart Association states that over sixty-four million Americans have one or more form of heart disease.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that there are many ways and means, to become proactive, and decrease your chances of developing cardiovascular problems, and even turn-back the clock on a current heart problem that you may not even know about. First you have to learn the risk-factors of heart-disease. This is the first-step in the direction of reducing your risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, or something equally as bad.
RISK FACTORS OF HEART-DISEASE
There are really four major risk-indicators of heart-disease. One of them is pretty well-known, but the others are just as important, and often not considered at all.
High Cholesterol, LDL, would be the first indicator. The buildup of plaque in your arteries can lead to a catastrophic event. Did you know that only 20% of your cholesterol requirements are a result of your diet? Your Liver produces the other 80%. This means that following a low-cholesterol eating plan doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a lower LDL reading. This why testing is so important.
Another risk-factor as important as Cholesterol, is Triglycerides, or fats. This material makes your blood thicker, and thus increases clotting-risks and arterial-blockage. Triglycerides are definitely related to the foods you eat, so think about that next time you are tempted to eat a bunch of Doughnuts, etc.
Homocysteine is pretty well known as a risk-factor, but did you know that it is a protein that is altered, and can cause damage to the arteries if not purged from the system? High levels of this protein are associated with a deficiency of the B-Vitamins. This includes: Folic Acid, B1,B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12. Most folks get the required amount of the B-Vitamins from their diet, they hope. A simple blood test will give you some insight on your levels of this risk-indicator. Vegetarians should have their Homocysteine levels tested every 6-months.
CRP, known as C-Reactive Protein is the last one, but is a proven measure of inflammation in the blood. Clinical-Studies have shown that C-Reactive Protein is an accurate-predictor of cardio-problems to come, and in fact, will increase your chance of suffering a stroke. This is often treated with anti-inflammatory medication.
Now you will know something about all of the 4 blood-indicators that are vital risk-factors of heart-disease. The next time you get a blood-test, make sure they run tests for each of these items, as it could be lifesaving.
HOW CAN YOU REDUCE YOUR RISK OF HEART-DISEASE?
It would seem to me, that making a few dietary and lifestyle changes in order to have a healthy heart would be well worth the time. This would be especially true if you have elevated levels of any of the risk-indicators we discussed.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
A little at a time, incorporate changes into your eating habits. Cut down on fried foods, trans-fats, fast-foods, and refined-sugar. These terrible things will lead to blocking of the arteries. Instead, try to consume more Omega-3 fatty acids, which has been proven to fortify the heart, and is available in cold-water fish, or a fish-oil supplement. When you are cooking, use Extra-Virgin Olive-Oil, and also Garlic, which have both been shown to naturally lower cholesterol.
Get moving, start some form of exercise. You need to get your blood circulating. There is nothing like a fresh supply of oxygenated blood to cleanse the tissues, and circulate vital nutrients throughout your body. Don’t forget that the absence of exercise is a major cardio-risk-factor.
It may be a good idea to supplement your diet with Vitamins, Minerals and the Omega-3 fatty acids. This will help insure that you are getting the vital nutrients that you need for wellbeing. I recommend also taking a good Digestive Enzyme along with these other supplements, to make sure you are breaking down the nutrients and absorbing them.
Now you have a plan to take you in the direction of having a healthy heart.
By Steve Stanley