The Ultimate Heart Health ABCs
Arteries. Blood Pressure. Cholesterol. Read below for some simple tips to avoid the country’s number one killer.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Annually it is estimated that more than 700,000 people die of heart disease in the United States.
What many people don't realize is that many of these deaths can be prevented. Yes! Cardiovascular disease is preventable. Sadly, the vast majority of these deaths are avoidable. Unfortunately, for the general public it can be very confusing to try and understand the cardiovascular system and to sift through the vast amount of information online - which is not always accurate or true. To make understanding the cardiovascular system more straight forward, we here at Tru Health (an integrative Medical Clinic) have put together the Ultimate Health ABCs for heart health.
What you need to know for Ultimate Heart Health - the ABC's
- A = arteries: The goal is to avoid hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis/ atherosclerosis)
- B = blood pressure: Ultimate heart health depends upon maintaining a healthy blood pressure
- C = cholesterol: The goal is to keep your cholesterol panel balances. Good cholesterol Vs. bad cholesterol. Do you know the difference?
Ultimate Heart Health - Arteries
A: A is for Arteries. Specifically, it is for blocked Arteries which, which can often be one of the first signs that there may be imminent cardiovascular problems occurring silently. The blood in your vessels is needed by every tissue in the body for health, oxygen delivery and proper systemic function. If proper blood flow is blocked for any reason whatsoever, then the heart may not be getting an adequate supply of oxygen. The coal of course is to do everything you can to prevent plaques or hardening of the arteries from forming. Many of the outcomes of hardened arteries can include surgical interventions as well as pharmaceutical drugs. There are however things you can do to PREVENT this problem, and create a state of ultimate health for your heart. Many people find that a healthy spectrum of supplements and heart healthy lifestyle modifications can help them in their goal to prevent heart disease and hardening of the arteries. While it is very important to discuss your individual situation with one of our Integrative Medical professionals, we do know that there are many nutrients shown to benefit heart health, such as B vitamins.
- B Vitamins— Has been shown to reduce subclinical atherosclerosis significantly.
Ultimate Heart Health - Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure is a silent killer. This is something that doctors are always trying to identify, because once it has been identified, you will have the chance to correct this poroblem before it can cause serious side effects. Whenever you visit your primary care doctor's office you should always be sure that they check your blood pressure.
Elevated blood pressure can cause a great deal of strain on the many blood vessels that bring blood to all parts of your body. This ongoing stress can lead to injured vessels, which then requires "nature's band aid" - the plaque to form to help limit the damage to the vessels. The problem here, as I am sure you already have thought, it that the plaques are what can block the vessels and lead to clotting, heart attack and other invasive pharmaceutical or surgical interventions if it gets bad enough.
The elevations of blood pressure can also cause eye problems, lead to heart failure, and ultimately causes your heart to work much harder than you want it to - just to deliver nutrients and oxygen to your tissues.
Elevated blood pressure is very treatable and if caught early, can be effectively treated with integrative medical treatments and naturopathic methods. There are a wide variety of treatments that can be helpful in decreasing mildly elevated blood pressure, and of course it is necessary for you to be seen by one of our doctors to determine what is right for you. No two people are alike and Ultimate Heart Health requires individualized treatment plans. It is widely recognized that antioxidants can help to limit the damage to blood vessels and the heart itself. Glutathione is a good example of this.
- Glutathione —Powerful antioxidant protects arteries and blood vessels. One of the most powerful antioxidants know in medicine.
One of the most widely prescribed medication classes is known as "statins" - medications that lower your cholesterol. They block the liver from making cholesterol and can cause a decrease in the total amount of your LDL. It also has been shown to elevate your HDL levels.
Statins also happen to be one of the most widely know classes of drugs that have many side effects which can be very problematic - like rhabdomyolysis and dementia. While it is very important to decrease cholesterol levels to prevent cardiovascular disease, plaque formation and heart attack, it is important that patients know of the possible side effects of these medications.
Lets talk a little bit about the cholesterol panel. Understanding these markers is an important step in reaching Ultimate Heart Health.
- Total cholesterol— This is frequently the only number you will be provided with after seeing your doctor. Generally the lower your cholesterol (less than 200), the lower your risk of heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol—Commonly referred to as good cholesterol. This wonderful lipoprotein helps to remove "bad cholesterol" from the body and vessel walls. Generally speaking, the higher your HDL (over 40) the better off you are.
- LDL cholesterol—Commonly referred to as bad cholesterol. Generally speaking, the lower you get your LDL, the better (less than 100 is generally considered to be ideal; 100-129 is near or above acceptable; 130-159, high; 160-189, high; 190 or greater is very high)
If you want to protect your cardiovascular system, controlling your cholesterol levels is important. If you want to avoid the risk (and expense!) of statin drugs, consider getting a workup from one of our Integrative and Naturopathic Medical Doctors (ND, NMD)
Understanding cholesterol and knowing your cholesterol levels is the first step to reducing the risk that elevated cholesterol plays in your overall health. If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, we recommend that you seek all the information you need to make an informed and educated decision about how to effectively manage this problem. Knowing how to manage Cholesterol problems also gives you the information you need to understand the other serious issues related to cholesterol problems that many people don't even know about...
Remember - taking action is as easy as ABC; Arteries, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol. The things that you do today to take care of your cholesterol problem, will give you a better quality of life and will help to reduce the risk of some very serious potential complications that are associated with the ABCs of cardiovascular disease.
If you are interested in learning more about our integrative medicine clinic in Santa Rosa, please call: 707-292-8882. We look forward to helping you on your journey to vibrant health!
Naturopathic health care with compassionate integrative doctors who understand your unique medical needs.