Since February is American Heart Month, creating awareness of the real risk of heart disease is timely. When people think about cardiovascular or heart health in general, they typically are not focused on what their blood levels of Omega 3 fatty acids or Vitamin D3 are as part of the big picture.
Omega 3 fish oils in therapeutic dosages, with the proper ratios of EPA to DHA, have proven in clinical studies and patient outcomes, to demonstrate tremendous health benefits for the heart, cardiovascular system, and brain. Research shows that Omega 3s and Vitamin D offer protection against cardiovascular disease of all types.
Several studies have shown a close link between high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil and protection from various aspects of coronary heart disease. One such study published in the journal Preventive Medicine found that the greatest protection from sudden death by cardiovascular causes was seen in individuals with an Omega 3 index greater than or equal to 8%. Another study published in Atherosclerosis found that an Omega 3 index of 8% or higher reduced risk of death from coronary heart disease by 30%.
A similar link between Vitamin D3 levels and cardiovascular disease has been demonstrated in medical research. Several studies have shown that lower Vitamin D levels are associated with high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose, atherosclerotic plaque in blood vessels, arterial stiffness, and higher rates of cardiovascular events.
Experts suggest maintaining blood levels between 50ng/dl and 80 ng/dl for Vitamin D and an Omega -3-index of 8% to 12%. Be sure to take a third party validated, pharmaceutical-grade quality Omega 3 and Vitamin D3 supplement daily, and tell your doctor you are taking it, to ensure they avoid any prescription medications for your heart health that might interfere.
The lifeblood of heart health is really not the pump itself, but, the vascular system composed of approximately 60,000 miles of blood vessels including the capillaries, arteries, and veins that distribute blood to nourish every cell in the body that really matters. Keeping these hard-working vessels supple and open is the key not only to avoiding disease, but also to ensure vitality and longevity.
The alternative, arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries can slowly and sometimes silently bring on cardiovascular (CVD) which can result in a heart attack, stroke, vision loss or cognitive mental decline. CVD is the leading cause of death in America, killing one in four people.
According to the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nearly 45% of the U.S. population will be predicted to have some form of heart disease by 2035. Only 15% of CVD is related to genetics: the rest is attributed to lifestyle, and the right choices can make all the difference. The key is to adopt heart-healthy habits before the body delivers a potentially fatal warning. The initial presentation of heart disease can be an acute event or sudden death in half of men and two-thirds of women. That is not treatable.
The first step toward cardiovascular health is awareness. Here are some of the most important indicators of CVD risk: high blood pressure ( over 140/90), high cholesterol (over 240 mg/dl), elevated triglycerides (over 200 mg/dl), high blood glucose (over 140 mg/dl), obesity (BMI over 30), Inflammation (hsCRP test above 2 ml/dl), physical inactivity (less than 30 minutes daily), smoking, and chronic stress lead the way.
Any of these factors can increase the risk of heart disease, but when you have a cluster of 4 or 5 of these, it can lead to a condition called metabolic syndrome, which significantly increases your potential for heart disease and type II diabetes. Metabolic syndrome, like CVD, is now very common, and according to the CDC affects about one-third of adults. The one most distinct marker for metabolic syndrome is an accumulation of fat around the waistline characterized by a measurement of over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
Newer preventive tests are now being recommended by cardiologists and primary care physicians, including computerized tomography (CT) scan to determine your calcium score. This procedure checks for the hardening of the arteries and predicts the risk of a 10-year future cardiovascular event. This identifies people who have preclinical atherosclerosis, regardless of risk factors, and convinces people to begin a heart-healthy lifestyle by modifying their behaviors. These guidelines are issued by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association ( AHA) jointly, targeting patients over age 50 years.
When examining lifestyle factors and reducing the risk of CVD, the most important change that people can make is diet. But, many times, unfortunately, people are not willing to make the necessary healthy food choices that can improve overall health, and specifically heart health. This typically means avoiding processed foods and consuming less salt, trans fats, saturated fat, and cholesterol, while adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, wild-caught fish, nuts, and seeds. I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all diet, but, the Mediterranean diet continues to be considered as maybe the best diet for most. It has withstood the tincture of time and continues to show many health benefits including for the heart.
Here is a list of some other cardiovascular boosting foods to consider adding to your daily diet:
- Leafy greens flush out excess sodium and can reduce inflammation.
- Berries improve circulation by boosting nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow.
- Pomegranate lowers blood pressure and reduces plaque formation.
- Walnuts and almonds lower LDL, the bad cholesterol.
- Wild-caught fish including salmon, anchovies, albacore tuna, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and omega 3 oils lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements, vitamins, minerals, and herbal medicines can also be an important part of a healthy heart program. Such supplements including gugulipid, red yeast rice, CoQ10, Omega 3 fish oils, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, folic acid, garlic, nattokinase, and others are critical if one is serious about being proactive and making the necessary diet and lifestyle changes that will reduce their relative risk of developing heart disease or suffering from some type of CVD in the future.
In summary, there are known risk factors that increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, which can be managed through personal discipline, by making the necessary lifestyle and behavioral changes as part of your daily routine.
Here are the top 10 personal risk factors which may be modified in most cases:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- elevated triglycerides
- metabolic syndrome
- high stress
- poor diet
- chronic inflammation
- physical inactivity
It is important to know your numbers and keep working towards a healthier lifestyle especially if you have a strong family history or other known risk factors. Just remember, that heart disease is modifiable, and in many cases can be reversed or modified with diet and exercise.
If you have any questions, feel free to call 239-481-7322 to speak with one of our healthcare professionals, to learn how we can help you improve your heart health today. You may also go to cypresspharmacy.com for more information.