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Heart Health: Awareness, Prevention, and the Path Forward

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Functional Medicine, heart health, inflammation, Infrared Sauna, supplements

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It’s scary to think about heart health, so maybe that’s why we all try to avoid it. No one wants to imagine a failed heart, but in this case, ignorance is not bliss. 

We must face the facts:  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Plus, 48.6% of Americans have heart disease, and some might not be diagnosed. Yet the American Heart Association found that 51% of Americans don’t know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. 

That alarming statistic is surely one to get your heart racing and maybe fall into a rabbit hole of fear. But there is a positive angle we can shift our perspective to.  

Yes, being aware of symptoms, warning signs, and risk factors is vital to spot heart disease. However, heart disease is preventable and it’s not too late!  

Heart Health Awareness 

We all have a heart, so we all have the responsibility of knowing how heart disease affects us. 

The percentage of individuals with heart disease is the almost equal to the amount of people who are aware that heart disease is a leading cause of death. Awareness of the severity of heart disease is key; it helps us recognize risk factors, warning signs, symptoms, and prevention methods. Let’s dive into the facts. 

What is Heart Disease? 

Anytime someone says, “heart disease”, they’re speaking in general terms about multiple heart diseases like coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, structural heart disease, and more. Although there are differences between each, the risk factors and prevention methods are generally applicable to all. 

Heart Health Risk Factors 

There are two types of risk factors: medical conditions and lifestyle choices. 

Medical Conditions 

  • High cholesterol 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Diabetes 
  • High blood sugar 
  • Obesity 
  • Chronic Inflammation 

Lifestyle 

  • Unhealthy diet 
  • Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, drug use 
  • Less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week 
  • Stress 
  • Unhealthy weight 
  • Toxin exposure 
  • Chronic inflammation  

Lifestyle choices and medical conditions are both valuable to consider. But lifestyle choices are often at the root of medical conditions, so there is opportunity to change even with a medical condition. 

Heart Disease Symptoms 

Heart disease often does not show symptoms until it is life-threatening or serious. Because of this, it is extremely important to listen to your body and contact a medical professional if you’re experiencing these symptoms.  

  • Chest discomfort or pressure 
  • Unexplained shortness of breath 
  • Severe fatigue 
  • Chest discomfort or shortness of breath while exercising 
  • Nausea 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Pain down left arm into jaw, throat, or back 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Legs, feet, and abdomen swelling 

Men and women also differ for symptoms, with women often having less intense symptoms. Because of the reduced symptoms, many women do not seek healthcare professionals or are turned away at medical offices. Do not doubt your symptoms even if you don’t have EVERY symptom. 

Heart Disease Prevention 

If you’ve read this far, then you’ve already tackled the first step of prevention, which is awareness. 

Heart disease is relevant for many people, and we cannot ignore that. But we also know that a heart-health functional medicine approach can help us make preventive choices: get tested for risk factors during your annual labs, practice foundational health, avoid toxins, add supplements, and try red light therapy. 

Annual Labs 

Awareness about your blood levels gives you information to make educated decisions about your lifestyle choices. If you choose to get lab testing at Alive and Well, our providers will walk you through your levels in depth. They won’t just tell you whether you have heart disease or not. Instead, our providers explain each data point and how levels affect each other—plus, what you can do about it. A lipid panel, hsCRP, and insulin and hemoglobin tests are all valuable labs for heart health information. 

Lipid panel 

Tests your cholesterol and other fat levels, this is a sign of your risk of heart disease. 

HsCRP 

A high-sensitivity c-reactive protein (hsCRP) test reveals if this inflammatory marker is elevated because of chronic, long term, or low-grade inflammation, or acute illness. Getting this test can help you see if there’s inflammation that you need to decrease, and that can release strain on your heart. 

Insulin and hemoglobin 

An insulin and hemoglobin test shows how your body manages blood sugar and insulin levels. The results may reveal if you are at risk of diabetes, which can contribute to heart disease risk. 

Practice Foundational Health 

As with all health focuses, foundational health is the pillar to keeping your heart healthy.  

Exercise 

150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week is recommended for adults. 

This level of exercise has multiple heart benefits. Getting your blood pumping helps strengthen the heart and its flow efficiency, promotes better sleep, manages and prevents obesity, and lowers cholesterol. 

Diet 

A whole food, Mediterranean, and plant base diet are the best diets for the heart. These diets lower inflammation and cholesterol, balance blood sugar, and stabilize blood pressure.  

Sleep 

7-9 hours of high-quality sleep is recommended for adults to stabilize blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease. 

Manage Stress 

Stress takes a toll on the heart by increasing blood pressure and inflammation, which can clog the arteries. Managing your stress with healthy choices like exercise, meditation, and reaching out to family and friends is vital to heart health. 

Avoid Toxins 

Toxins are everywhere: environment, household cleaners, food, water, plastics, and lifestyle choices.  

This might seem overwhelming, but there are easy ways to change your environment to live in a less toxic environment. Your easiest toxin-free choices in your household include: 

  • Taking shoes off in the house 
  • Dusting regularly 
  • Opening windows 
  • Vaccuum regularly  
  • Change HVAC filters 
  • Check for water damage and mold 

For more advanced toxin-free practices, try: 

  • Invest in air or water filters 
  • Swap cleaning or detergent items for non-toxic products 
  • Choose pots, pans, containers, plates etc. that are BPA, PFA, and PFC free (try cast iron skillet or glass containers) 

Smoking cigarettes is another toxin that infiltrates the system and damages the heart and blood vessels. Government programs, support groups, and medical practitioners can help you quit. 

Take Supplements 

Cholesterol  

Numedica Bergamed 

Beat your high cholesterol with this blend of bergamot and olive oil. The antioxidant qualities reduce bad cholesterol for less plaque buildup in the arteries. Less plaque buildup = lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and inflammation. 

Thorne Red Yeast Rice 

Keep your cholesterol balanced with Red Yeast Rice—backed by Chinese and American studies. The rice contains yeast that reduces overall production of cholesterol, which can lead to lower levels of bad cholesterol. Great for being proactive! 

Circulation 

Endocalyx Pro 

Strengthen the inner lining of your blood vessels to protect from damage and improve circulation. Your boosted circulation keeps all your systems in motion for improved healing, oxygen and nutrient delivery, organ function, and cognitive health. 

 Overall Heart Health 

More Than Cardio 

Tackle chronic inflammation with six powerful enzymes and six essential herbs. Decreasing inflammation also decreases your blood viscosity, meaning your heart doesn’t have to work as hard for circulation and oxygen transport to organs and tissues. 

Xymogen Omega MonoPure 1300 

This no-fish-tasting fish oil supplies your body with fatty acids that lower triglycerides, blood pressure, plaque, and inflammation. With this reduction, the heart has less strain and a stabilized beat—a reliable prevention tool for heart disease. 

 Blood Pressure 

HTN 180 PX  

Support blood vessel relaxation and coronary blood flow to reduce blood pressure. The integrated alkaloids also relax the parasympathetic nervous system for a calm mind and body. 

 N101 Nitric Oxide Releasing Lozenges 

Naturally boost your body’s nitric oxide production with this lozenge. By increasing production, your blood vessels are flexible and efficient for circulation and blood pressure regulation. Your immune system, physical performance, and cognitive function will be thankful! 

Red Light Therapy 

Red light therapy is an integrative therapy that exposes the body to infrared LED light. Infrared light penetrates cells from the inside out, producing regenerative results. The light bolsters blood vessels, decreases inflammation, increases blood flow regulation, and can overall protect against heart attacks.  

 

Alive and Well’s Commitment to Heart Health 

Heart health is a priority, especially with the rise of heart disease. The first step is awareness, and then preventative lifestyle choices that boost heart health. 

At Alive and Well, we take a functional medicine approach to heart health—meaning we focus on root-cause and individualized care. We offer many ways to take control of your heart health through our functional medicine providers, lab testing, red light therapy, and supplement store. Together, we can work to make effective, heart-healthy lifestyle choices. 

 

 

 

Sources: 

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart-healthy-living 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190808115052.htm 

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2023/06/12/higher-cardiovascular-risk-linked-to-toxic-metals-found-in-everyday-life 

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fight-inflammation-to-help-prevent-heart-disease 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g131j2lb3xw 

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