Getting to the heart of heart health

February is American Heart Month. At some point you will likely hear that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death. Well…not quite. When we add up deaths from medication side effects, medical errors and hospital acquired infections, the practice of medicine is number one. That gives us ample reason to prevent heart disease using natural methods.

Women are rightly very worried about breast cancer, but we are about 10 times more likely to die from heart disease. Roughly 1 in every 4 female deaths is from heart disease and 64% of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. We don’t know enough because most research has been done on men.  Females don’t necessarily have the same signs of heart attack as men. They may present with extreme fatigue, indigestion, nausea, or shortness of breath. Of course, they can also have chest pain or discomfort or pain in the upper back. After a heart attack, a woman is 3 times more likely to die because the medical care is not as good. Seems we need to take an advocate with us to assure proper attention.

Most of the lifestyle factors that increase risk for heart disease are no surprise. For example: being sedentary and smoking. (Note that more men are quitting than women.) Also on the list, as expected, is stress and excess alcohol consumption. Obviously, poor nutrition is a biggie and adopting the Mediterranean Diet is a great step in the right direction. The more processed foods we eat, the more trouble we are in. A recent study demonstrated that we have a 14% higher risk of early death (e.g. from cancer and heart disease) with each 10% increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods eaten. What are ultra-processed foods? Think of the chip aisle, the cookie aisle and frankly most of the center part of a grocery store.

Of course, we all know that obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Not everyone knows that women taking oral contraceptives are 2 to 3 times more likely to have high blood pressure. Other medications can also increase risk to the heart. For example, heartburn drugs because among other problems, they interfere with absorption of critical magnesium. Winter is even a risk factor for heart attack and not just because of shoveling snow. We are more likely to be low in vitamin D which is important for the heart.

Let’s see, what am I missing. Oh yes, cholesterol. I saved that for last to make the point that there are a LOT of other things that may be more important. The controversy continues about the wisdom of taking aggressive action to lower cholesterol among those who do not have heart disease. And, Statin drugs have very worrisome side effects such as damage to muscle and liver, increased risk of diabetes, depression, and brain shrinkage. When the legendary Dr. Robert Atkins was on the show years ago, he said he thought high triglycerides was a bigger problem. Research is beginning to confirm his suspicions about this overlooked blood fat.

In addition to improving diet which is a more important step, dietary supplements can certainly help. I recommend taking a great multivitamin/mineral as a base. (E.g. Molecular Multi) Add to that extra magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps diabetics. (To get 24/7 protection and stress-responsive C, I take Formula 216.)  If you are concerned about cholesterol or blood pressure or other cardio factors, pick one of Kyolic’s extremely well researched products shown in their Heart Health Section. To help with heart health, eye health and other concerns of aging, Longevinex is an outstanding addition.

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