Heart Disease – A Growing Endemic
Do you easily get short of breath? Do you wake up tired, perhaps with a headache and feel sluggish all day?
If you do then you may be one of thousands of Americans who have some form of undiagnosed heart disease. Heart disease is one of the most common ailments affecting people in America today, especially if you are over 35 so you are not alone. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America today. It is something we should all be concerned about and take measures to prevent.
What is Heart Disease?
The Mayo Clinic defines heart disease as, “a range of conditions that affect your heart” and the list of conditions is extensive. There are many factors that influence whether or not you will develop heart disease. The main determiners of heart disease are genetic disposition, environmental factors and a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Genetic heart diseases are usually structural abnormalities such as hole in the heart disease or arrhythmias. This are often inherited and you may have other family members who also share the condition.
Environmental factors are numerous but the good news is they are often well within our ability to influence and control. Everything from what we eat, how often we exercise, how well we sleep and how good we are at managing stress can positively impact our heart health and lower our chances of having heart disease.
Why is it important to consider supplements for heart health?
Often times, even when we are doing everything we can to be healthy, we still fall short on our daily intake of vitamins, supplements and minerals. Therefore it is important to investigate the advantage of using supplements to increase our odds of maintaining healthy heart functions and preventing heart disease. There are many heart conditions that respond well to supplements.
Common Heart Conditions that respond well to supplements
- Congestive heart failure
- Coronary heart disease
- Arterial blockage
- Arterial inflammation
- High blood pressure
Angina is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart which inhibits the hearts absorption of oxygen. It is usually a symptom of a greater heart issue such as coronary heart disease.
Symptoms of Angina
- Chest pain
- Chest pressure
- Difficulty breathing
Since symptoms of Angina are similar to heart attack symptoms it is important that you contact a healthcare professional immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
Congestive heart failure
Another common heart condition is congestive heart failure. This is a chronic heart disease that occurs when your heart muscle weakens and struggles to pump blood. This causes fluids to build up around the heart interfering with the pumping mechanism. This inability to pump properly can cause fluid to build up in other organs and tissues of your body. This ailment can affect the left side of your heart, the right side of your heart or both sides simultaneously. Left sided CHF tends to affect your lungs and cause difficulty breathing whereas right sided CHF tends to have a greater impact on the swelling of you lower extremities and abdomen.
Symptoms of Congestive heart failure
- Chronic cough
- Excessive water retention
- Low energy levels
- Swelling of hands feet ankles and legs
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Shortness of breath
- Whistling or high pitched whining sound when you expel air
Congestive heart disease benefits from CoQ10, which helps give the heart energy that it needs to do it’s job properly.
Coronary heart disease
Coronary heart disease is a broad term that covers several chronic heart diseases. Generally these ailments have no cure but can be treated with surgery.
Atherosclerosis Is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arterial walls and restricts the flow of blood and oxygen in your circulatory system. Plaque which is comprised of harmful cholesterol, can harden and even crack further damaging the arteries. Simple supplements such as green tea can help slow down the buildup of plaque by lowering cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
Symptoms of Atherosclerosis include:
- Can be symptomless
- Leg pain (especially when exercising)
- Heart attack
Arterial blockage is a form of coronary heart disease in which an artery becomes blocked and is no longer able to pass blood. This is a serious condition that requires surgery and can induce a heart attack or a stroke. Using supplements that help prevent plaque buildup can extend the health of your arteries.
Symptoms of Arterial blockage include:
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
Arterial inflammation is the inflammation of your arteries and responds well to cholesterol lowering supplements and statins.
Symptoms of Arterial inflammation
- Night sweats
- Limb numbness
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a condition in which the pressure of your blood as it passes through your veins and arteries is elevated and begins to have damaging effects. Often this is caused by the thickening of arterial walls which creates a narrowing effect much like the effect you get when you pinch a hose, the water rushes out faster and under greater pressure. High blood pressure is treatable and can benefit from supplements.
High blood pressure symptoms are rare. Usually it has no symptoms at all and is known as the silent killer for this reason. Therefore it is recommended that you check your blood pressure regularly and report any spikes or abnormalities to your health care physician as soon as possible.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Heart Health
Heart health is impacted by several factors. There are genetic factors as is the case with hereditary heart diseases and environmental factors. Although genetic factors may be unavoidable, environmental factors are not. This means with proper choices we can lower our chances of getting heart disease or help slow the progress of heart disease if we already have it.
- Healthy eating habits
- Stress management
Exercising and eating healthy is a well known way to help prevent heart disease and keep our bodies strong and fit. Minimizing stress whenever possible is a challenging but effective way to help with heart health.
The environmental factor that gets the least consideration is sleep. Did you know that lack of sleep or bad sleep habits can have serious detrimental impacts on the health of your heart and body?
Sleep deprivation has immediately noticeable consequences. Even one night of bad sleep can cause your heart to work harder to pump blood, increase your blood pressure and put your entire physiological system in a state of measurable stress. Continued or chronic sleep deprivation can lead to serious heart health issues.
Ailments that can be caused by or exacerbated by chronic lack of sleep
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
Supplements for Sleep
In today’s world of intense work schedules and high pressure living, sleep is often cut short while we push full speed ahead on fumes alone. Therefore it is absolutely vital to get a good night’s sleep whenever possible but how do you do that when you are wound up from a crazy day at the office and have to get up in 7 short hours?
Fortunately there are many herbal supplements that can assist you in relaxing and bring you into a sleep conducive state.
Natural herbs and supplements
- Valerian root
Chamomile is an herbal remedy that has been around since ancient times. It is readily available as a pleasant tea or a topical ointment. Many people find that drinking chamomile is in itself a very relaxing experience.
Melatonin is produced naturally in the body and plays an important role in regulating our natural sleep cycles. Even a very small amount of melatonin is often enough to help our bodies realize it is time for sleep.
Valerian is a natural herbal supplement that has been used throughout the world to treat insomnia. Like chamomile, this is an herb that can help you relax and get to sleep faster.
Light treatment for regulating Sleep
If you struggle with unhealthy sleep patterns such as going to sleep in the a.m. hours and waking up late in the afternoon. You may have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. This means that your bodies natural sleep cycle is out of whack. One recommended treatment that, when used along with supplements, can help get your sleep back on track is light therapy.
Light Therapy works by exposing you to bright simulated sunlight in the morning hours. It is recommended that for a couple hours a day, in the morning, you make sure to expose yourself to these bright lights. This resets your internal clock, letting your body recognize that it’s morning and helps it produce melatonin naturally, at the right time of the evening instead of the early morning hours. Light therapy lamps are affordable and can be bought over the counter.
Cholesterol: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Cholesterol is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in the body. It is also concentrated in animal fat and animal by products such as beef and butter. Generally people at risk of high Cholesterol and high triglycerides (the main chemical component of human/animal fat and oil) are those whose diets contain high levels of fat. Cholesterol is transported through our bloodstreams by lipoproteins.
The two main lipoproteins that do this work are Low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is considered bad cholesterol because it is carried into the bloodstream where it can build up as plaque. HDL is considered good cholesterol because it is transported directly to the liver where it is filtered out. It is also considered good because if you have a high level of HDL, your odds of having heart diseases related to high cholesterol are significantly lowered.
Vitamins and Minerals for Heart Health
There are many vitamins, minerals and natural supplements that can increase heart health and lower risks associated with heart disease, lack of sleep and cholesterol. With so many options to choose from it is important to take the time to learn about each one before deciding what regimen will be best for you and your health. The good new is so many of the supplements that bolster heart health are also well within your reach and may even already be in your kitchen now! Others you will find readily available online or at your favorite health store or marketplace.
What is Fiber? Fiber is any food that contains cellulose,lignin or pectin. They work by being difficult to digest and resisting stomach enzymes which attempt to break them down for absorption into your bloodstream. As it passes through your system it also absorbs excess water. In this way Fiber assists the body in passing waste and water build up effectively.
Fiber can be a big help as it cuts down the amount of cholesterol that your body absorbs. It is recommend that a person gets 25-30 grams of fiber a day in their diet. There are many foods that contain fiber. Roughage found in the form of vegetables and fruits and grains are common sources of fiber. By helping to flush your system of harmful cholesterol and helping to combat water retention, fiber is a great tool to maintain healthy heart functions.
Sterols and Stanols
Sterols and stanols also come from plants like nuts and grains.Sterols and stanols are similar in molecular structure to cholesterol. As they pass through your system they interfere with cholesterol absorption by blocking them. The body absorbs the harmless Sterols and stanols while passing the cholesterol as a waste by product. The great thing about sterols and stanols is they are beneficial in small amounts so a handful of walnuts or other sterol/stanol containing food has excellent health benefits. The benefits of Sterols and Stanols have reached the food production community and they have now been added to things like orange juice. The recommended dosage is just two grams a day.
Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10)
CoQ10 is one of the most vital compounds for maintaining the proper function and health of the heart. CoQ10 (CoEnzyme Q10) deficiency may lead to heart disease or other life threatening medical conditions.
What is CoQ10
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that is organically produced by our bodies. It is a coenzyme. Like a vitamin it assists with body processes and promotes better health.
CoQ10 is predominantly found in tissues and organs that utilize mass amounts of energy. The heart itself is an energy generator and each beat of the heart is made possible by powerful electric pulses that cause it to contract during every beat. Since CoQ10 is an essential producer of cellular energy, it is vital to the health and maintenance of healthy heart function.
Statins and CoQ10 – The Real Story
Statins are drugs that are meant to help heart health by lowering harmful LDL cholesterol. They are very effective but that effectiveness also impacts CoQ10 by lowering how much the body naturally produces. This can have a detrimental impact on heart health and energy production. This could mean that your proactive efforts to prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol may actually be creating new heart health issues.
If you have cholesterol problems and are required to take statins you should also.
The Production of CoQ10 in the Human Body
One drawback of the CoQ10 supplement, even pharmaceutical grade, is the instability of the compound. Only a small percentage is metabolized in the body and so, when it reaches the bloodstream, there is a limited amount that can be actually used by the necessary body functions when taken orally.
Just like other natural compounds in the body, CoQ10 production decreases as we age. For this reason, there are certain health conditions can exacerbate this effect on the body’s CoQ10 supply, in the same way in which statin drugs can cause a decrease of the CoQ10 compound in the body.
The most effective way to increase the body’s CoQ10 supply is through encouraging your body to naturally produce the compound. This will maximize the efficiency of the supplement into your lifestyle.
You can do this in a number of ways including:
- Eating foods that are naturally high in the CoQ10, such as beef, fish or peanuts
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy sleep and eating pattern
Are there any CoQ10 side effects?
The side effects are generally minimal and non life-threatening. Most people will have no reaction, however if you do see any of the following symptoms, please make sure to contact your primary care provider. Also, there are some cases of allergic reaction to CoQ10. If you are prone to allergies it is important to consult your doctor before taking CoQ10.
Known side effects:
- Skin rashes
- Can affect blood sugar levels
- Can lower blood pressure (too low)
Other potential side effects:
- May lower the effectiveness of warfarin
- Can cause increased bleeding in individuals with bleeding disorders
- Can adversely affect hormone production for those taking thyroid medications
Note: If you have any pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease make sure to consult your primary care physician or a medical professional about the use of CoQ10 prior to usage. Even if you are in perfect health it is important to consult with a healthcare professional when beginning any new supplemental regimen.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids / Fish Oil
Fish oil can help greatly to lower triglycerides. Fish oil can be obtained by taking it as a supplemental pill. You can also get it from eating fresh fish. Some wonderful sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are Mackerel, lake trout, salmon, and anchovies. The American Heart Association recommends all adults eat two servings, 3.5oz each serving, a week to help with heart health. How does Omega-3 fatty acids Lower triglycerides?
Omega-3 fatty acids attack triglyceride production in several ways.
- Help eliminate them from the blood stream
- Speed up the conversion of fatty acids to energy
- Reduce the production of harmful cholesterol by the liver
As you can see, Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil work hard to keep your heart healthy.
Garlic contains the organosulfur known as allicin. Allicin has been found to have many health benefits including lowering blood pressure. It has natural antibiotic properties and is rich in antioxidants. It also helps to lower cholesterol and slow plaque buildup in the arteries. Being so versatile and combatting heart disease on multiple fronts is one of the reasons fresh garlic and concentrated supplements are so highly recommended. Of course garlic has the added bonus of making the food we prepare taste so wonderful! If you are already an avid garlic user you are probably already reaping the many health benefits that Garlic provides.
Green tea is rich in flavonoids, a powerful antioxidant. Green tea bolsters the natural function and health of endothelial cells which line your arteries and veins. This in turn helps defend the entire circulatory system from plaque build-up. Green tea is incredibly fast acting. The benefits are measurable within minutes of consuming green tea.
Green tea is also known to help lowers the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising the HDL cholesterol making green tea a powerful player in healthy heart function.
Like green tea, Hawthorn berries are rich in antioxidant flavonoids. In hawthorn berries they work by dilating the blood vessels. If your blood vessels are constricted this helps open them up and improves circulatory function and blood flow. Hawthorn berries help to defend against damage which helps to bolster and maintain healthy heart function. In addition to the berries themselves, the flowers and leaves have the same properties and are often used in Hawthorn supplements or can be used to produce a healthy herbal tea.
Vitamin B3 is more commonly known as niacin and is known to help lower LDL cholesterol. It can be found naturally in food products such as meat protein, dairy products nuts and beans. As well as lowering LDL it also increases HDL (beneficial cholesterol) which helps with liver function and the natural removal of LDL cholesterol.
Side Effects of Vitamin B3
- Gas or bloating
- Hot flashes
- Flushing or redness of the skin
- Stomach upset
None of the side effects of vitamin B3 are life threatening but they can be uncomfortable if you are sensitive to vitamin B3. To help alleviate or lessen the symptoms, try taking a slow release form of this supplement.
Red Yeast Supplement
Red Yeast is a type of yeast that comes from rice. Many of the compounds in this type of yeast are chemically related to statins, which are a group of pharmaceuticals prescribed to lower blood pressure. More specifically this yeast helps raise HDL levels.
There are some serious potential side effects that can occur when taking red yeast supplements.
Possible side effects
- Liver damage
- Muscle damage
- Muscle pain
Other complications include allergic reactions if accidentally breathing in red yeast powder and risks of improper fermentation which can have harmful effects. Because of the possible risks associated with this supplement it is important to make sure you find a reputable source. It is also recommended that you consult your healthcare physician before taking and discuss any concerns you may have regarding the use of this supplement.
Natto K is an enzyme found inside Natto. Natto is a japanese cuisine in which soybeans are fermented and aged. It has a stringy consistency, not unlike melted cheese and is well known for its pungent smell and unusual flavor. Natto may not be palatable to everyone as it is an acquired taste.
The good news is it although natto is hard to find in the US, it can be taken in its supplemental form, nattokinase. When taken it attaches itself to fibrin, a protein in blood that is an integral part of blood clotting, and breaks it down. This increases healthy blood flow and helps lower your chances of developing harmful blood clots that can lead to blockages, stroke or death.
Vitamin D and Magnesium
Vitamin D is important to heart health. Most of our natural vitamin D exposure comes from the sun. Milk is also another source of vitamin D. Doctors have found there is correlation between low exposure to sunlight and heart disease. Therefore taking vitamin D supplements if you do not get enough from natural sources is an important step in combating heart disease. Many of us have lower vitamin D exposure than is required for optimal health. We know that Vitamin D is important to heart health but what many people do not know is the way it interacts with Magnesium. Vitamin D absorbs Magnesium which triggers Vitamin Ds beneficial properties. If you take Vitamin D alone, you may not be getting the full benefits. Taking them together optimizes the benefits of Vitamin D so make sure if you decide to use Vitamin D that you take magnesium as well. When taking Vitamin D be sure not to go over the recommended daily amount. Taking too much Vitamin D can cause unwanted side effects
Symptoms of Vitamin D overdose
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Metallic taste
If you experience any of these symptoms discontinue usage and consult a physician.
Turmeric is another wonderful natural herb and natural antioxidant that tackles heart disease in several different ways. Turmeric has been shown to lower harmful cholesterol and reduce plaque build up in the arteries. It also helps prevent the formation of blood clots by reducing coagulation of red blood cells in the blood stream. Turmeric is not known to have any side effects and it s a commonly used food spice. Therefore you can take it in supplemental form or include it in your favorite spicy dishes to liven up your food and benefit your health.
Precautions when taking Turmeric. Although it does not have any known side effects, turmeric does have blood thinning properties. If you are taking blood thinning agents such as Warfarin or daily low dose aspirin, you should consult your healthcare physician before taking turmeric.
Asian ginseng has a long history of medical use in the orient. For more than 5000 years it has been prescribed for a number of disorders and is still one of the most popular supplements today. Asian Ginseng helps keep cholesterol at healthy levels and at the correct dosage, help lower blood pressure.
Ginseng sometimes can interact harmfully with other medications listed as follows:
- Diabetic medications
- Diuretic medications
- hormone therapy
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- Prescription pain medications
Make sure that you consult with a health care professional regarding any concerns you may have prior to starting this supplement.
Cilantro is a wonderful healthy herb that is extremely flavorful and adds a great deal of pizzaz to certain foods such as salsa, meats and rices. It is also a natural antioxidant, high in fiber and rich in essential oils. All of this combines to make Cilantro a great supplement for maintaining good heart health and lowering cholesterol. Just remember, like anything in this world too much of a good thing can have harmful effects. If you ingest too much cilantro (which is difficult to do) You can potentially experience some harmful side effects.
Symptoms of Cilantro overdose
- Allergic reactions
- Liver damage
- Low blood pressure
- Stomach upset
Raspberries, Blueberries and Blackberries
Berries are a wonderful source of natural antioxidants rich in fiber and delicious as well. They can be eaten alone, added to cereal, yogurt and oatmeal or taken in supplemental form. They help lower harmful cholesterol, are low in carbohydrates and promote overall heart health. Because of these wonderful properties they are a great addition to any heart health regimen or for use as a dietary supplement.
Make the Changes For Your Lifestyle
Heart disease is a serious issue in today's world. The amount of people suffering from heart disease and ultimately dying from heart disease is on the rise. The good news is there is a great deal we can do to combat and prevent heart disease.
By being proactive, informed and willing to make beneficial lifestyle changes we can lower our risk of heart disease and increase both the quality and longevity of our lives. Our world is rich in natural resources that can help us along the way. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to make the effort? I think we do.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Heart Disease..July 19,2014. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.