Looking after your heart.
Chances are if you are reading this article you have been told you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, have had a heart attack or have angina. Or maybe you have a family history of heart problems.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in western countries – many of which may be largely preventable.
The leading cause of cardiovascular disease is blocked arteries, called arterosclerosis which is caused by the gradual coagulation of blood vessels by fatty or fibrous material.
What causes cardio vascular disease?
The major preventable risk factors for cardio vascular disease are
So how can you reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease?
If you smoke you may have double the risk of stroke or heart attack. Smoking damages the inside of the blood vessels. This allows cholesterol and other materials to build up at the damaged areas. Smoking lowers the good cholesterol HDL, raises blood pressure, heart rate and increases insulin resistance.
The good news is it is never too late to stop, after one year of no smoking your risk of heart attack reduces by 50% and after two years your risk is similar to that of a non-smoker.
Reduce high blood pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure puts you at risk of stroke and coronary artery disease.
Ideally your blood pressure will be 120/80.
Areas to look at are exercise, weight loss, alcohol intake, salt intake and stress reduction.
Herbal medicine and nutritional supplements may be useful for you to take while you are working on diet and lifestyle factors for individual help contact us
· Follow a Mediterranean-style diet to improve vascular health and reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, cereals, fish, olive oil and is low in animal fats.
· Eat fresh, whole and nutrient dense foods rather than processed and ready-made foods and meals, the more meals you prepare yourself with fresh ingredients the better!
· Include oily fish in your diet, grill or bake, don’t deep fry. It is also beneficial to take an omega 3 supplement such as a fish oil capsule.
· Increase your intake of antioxidants, eat brightly coloured fruit and vegetables each day for essential antioxidant nutrients.
· Increase your fibre intake, good fibre sources are found in fruit and vegetables, legumes, e.g. lentils, chickpeas etc and some cereals such as oats and barley.
· Chia seeds, flaxseed and slippery elm are also good sources of fibre.
· Include garlic, ginger, onions and turmeric in your cooking.
· Drink green tea regularly, at least one cup per day.
· Walnuts have been shown to lower cholesterol and should be added into your diet.
· Avocados are a good source of healthy fats, use as a spread and add to salads.
· Lecithin granules can be added to your diet or taken as a supplement
· Avoid refined foods, packaged foods, high fat takeaway foods, high sugar foods, excess alcohol and reduce intake of saturated animal fats found in meats, organ meats and dairy products.
Control your blood sugar levels
Elevated blood sugar levels and diabetes increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and often exists with other high risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity, elevated blood clotting factors and high cholesterol. Herbs and nutrients can help you control your blood sugar levels, we can prescribe an individual program to suit your needs.
Maintain a healthy weight
The heart foundation recommends a waist measurement of less than 94cm for men and less than 80cm for women with a body mass index of 18.5 – 24.9. It is helpful to know these figures even though there is some variation with this. Herbs and nutrients can help you while you are working to your optimum weight. We also have a health and vitality program that supports you obtain your goals.
Exercise for 30 minutes on most days or if you can every day of the week.
Regular exercise increases HDL, the healthy cholesterol we want, lowers blood pressure, maintains a healthy weight, enhances smoking cessation, improves insulin sensitivity and makes you happier!
Lack of regular physical exercise doubles the risk of coronary heart disease.
Take time out for relaxation, massage, walks on the beach, time with family, play sport, take up yoga, join a social club, enjoy time in nature. Sleep well.
Anger, hostility, depression, anxiety, stress and lack of social support have all been associated with increased risk of cardio vascular disease. If these are part of your life, make changes today!
Herbs that support your adrenal glands and nervous system will help your body move to a better state of health.
HDL or LDL cholesterol what do we want?
We want more HDL, the healthy cholesterol which among other jobs transports LDL out of the blood to be excreted in the faeces. This is desirable as it is mostly the LDL cholesterol which causes thickening and blocking of the arteries.
Basically the bad cholesterol, LDL for short, accumulates in the tissues and smooth linings of the blood vessels. Calcium and other substances may accumulate also, this causes thickening and scar tissue or plaques to from, eventually clots may form, leading to increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
High blood pressure may also result which causes erosion of the linings of the blood vessel and further plaques.
If you would like help with any of the health issues discussed in this article please contact us for more information or book with us for an individual consultation