Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Canada. It is also the most costly disease in Canada, creating a great stress on our national health care system. Prevention with small daily changes can impact these statistics greatly. Although most view heart health as a disease of the aging with a “ if I get it then I’ll do something attitude”, it can impact adults of any age.
Why is this happening?
We are not investing enough in prevention. The most important factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes which are all related to obesity, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and stress.. Research shows that regular exercise which is defined as light to moderate exercise at least five times per week for at least 30 minutes or a vigorous activity at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes can significantly improve your cardiovascular health. Yet although 62% of North Americans have some physical activity in their leisure time, 70% of North American adults don’t exercise regularly.
What are the main warning signs of a stroke?
- Sudden weakness, numbness and or tingling in the face , arm or leg
- Sudden temporary loss of speech or trouble understanding speech
- Sudden loss of vision, particularly in one eye or double vision
- Sudden severe and unusual headache
- Sudden unsteadiness or sudden fall
If you experience any of the above , see your doctor immediately.
Your annual physical exam may or may not show any reason for concern. Wellness Medicine is about looking at the trends that occur slowly and steadily before disease. Many of these conditions are subclinical. When visiting your Naturopathic Doctor consideration will be made to investigate the latest technology for detection of subclinical states such as signs of chronic inflammation, other cardiovascular markers, adrenal weakness that impacts stress and traditional Naturopathic Physical Assessment Techniques.
What are the Health Connections related to this trend?
Natural approaches are understanding the root cause and the Health Connections in the path that resulted in their outcome.
Cardiovascular disease is related to the development of chronic inflammation. When the body is under stress for an extended period of time , one weakens the nervous system, adrenals, thyroid and liver which leads to chronic inflammation. This inflammation increases plaque formation that increases risk of high blood pressure and stroke. In addition when the liver is over stressed it cannot clear as effectively and conjugate and breakdown hormones as efficiently leading to higher levels of circulating cholesterol.
The pathway from beginning to end is shown in the Health Wellness Spectrum( HWS)©: ( For more details of the HWS © see the April 2008 Newsletter Allergies, Asthma and Eczema)
What are the lab tests available in Longevity Medicine for Heart Disease in addition to your traditional blood pressure and lipid panels?
Your blood offers many clues about your heart health. It is important to remember that one test alone does not determine your risk of heart disease and that a combination of information will determine your status.
1. C Reactive Protein( CRP)- this is a test that represents patterns of inflammation in the body. CRP is a protein your liver produces as a response to injury or infection. It is also produced by the muscles in the coronary arteries. Thus early detection can relate to one step before cardiovascular disease becomes present.
2. Fibrinogen- is a protein in your blood that helps blood clot. Too much may promote excess clumping of platelets leading to heart attack or stroke. It may also be an indicator of inflammation. People who are smokers, inactive, have excessive alcohol consumption and have used estrogen for hormone replacement therapy or birth control pill use may be more at risk of higher levels.
3. Homocysteine-is an amino acid your body uses to make protein and to build and maintain tissue. High levels may increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. This makes it a very useful screening test. Ways to reduce homocystein levels are getting plenty of folic acid and B vitamins in your diet through foods such as dark green leafy vegetables and fortified grains.
4. Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a)- is a subtype of LDL cholesterol. It is determined more by your genetics and generally not affected by lifestyle.
5. Natriuretic peptides– Brain natriuretic peptide or B-type natriuretic peptide ( BNP) is a protein produced by your heart and blood vessels. It acts like a natural diuretic, relaxing blood vessel pressure and it works to send sodium to the urine. When your heart is damaged your body secretes very high levels of BNP in an effort to reduce the stress to the heart. A variation of BNP called N-terminal BNP is also useful in diagnosing heart failure if you already have heart disease.
6. Heart Rate Variability– assists in diagnosing heart rate changes which may represent increased risk of heart disease and other imbalances such as thyroid.
7. Hb A1C– This is a test that represents how well your blood sugar is managed over the last 2-3 months. It measures the amount of glycosylated haemoglobin in your blood. Gycosylated haemoglobin is a molecule in the red blood cells that attaches to glucose. Thus the higher the HbA1C is the higher the glucose levels are in your blood.
8. EndoPAT 200– This is a measure of your endothelial lining (lining of your arterial vessels) that play a key role in heart health. For more information click here.
What are our Top 10 Natural Treatment Options?
1. Salt– Keep your salt intake less than ½ tsp a day or 1500mg of sodium a day. The average Canadian consumes 3000mg of sodium a day which is twice the recommended amount. The sodium in salt directly contributes to high blood pressure which can lead to stroke. See addendum 1 and 2
2. Fish Oils- contain the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which reduces inflammation and has been shown to reduce atherosclerosis. The largest published study on omega-3 fatty acids for heart attack prevention was the preliminary GISSI Prevenzione Trial, which reported that 850mg of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil per day for 3.5 years resulted in a 20% reduction in total mortality and a 45% decrease in sudden death
3. Folic Acid 1mg /day reduces homocysteine levels which may be linked to cardiovascular risk
4. Dark Green Leafy Vegies– 2 salads per day each 2 cups
5. Garlic-2 cloves per day may have an impact on lipids and thinning of the blood.
6. L-carnitine- is an amino acid important for transporting fats that can be turned into energy in the heart. Clinical evidence suggests that taking (4-6 grams per day ) increases the chances of surviving a heart attack.
7. Vitamin C-has been shown to protect blood vessels from problems associated with heart attack risk.
8. Coenzyme Q10 ( CoQ10) –is an antioxidant specific for the heart . It contributes to the energy making mechanisms of the heart and has been reported to lower lipoprotein (a).
9. Selenium-reports suggest that either heart attacks reduce selenium blood levels or that people have had heart attacks were deficient in selenium prior to the heart attack.
10. Antioxidant Vitamins such as vitamin A,C , E and beta-carotene– are reported to be lower in people with a history of heart attack suggesting supplementation my be beneficial
Thus one can see that in treating any one of these conditions layers of support are needed.
Addendum 1-Sodium Reduction
Canadians eat on average 3100 mg of sodium per day, which is more than twice the daily recommended intake of:
Ages 19-50 1500mg/day
Ages 51-70 1300mg/day
Ages 71plus 1200mg/day
( Note 2300 mg/day is the maximum you can consume without possibly increasing your risk of high blood pressure )
1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
1 teaspoon baking soda = 1000 mg sodium
( The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine,2007 )
Great alternative options include: ( note 1 tbsp= approx 3tsp)
|Salt Alternative||Sodium Content/tsp||Nutrition Benefits|
|Miso||227 mg||Fermented soy bean paste which can be used in soups, sauces and is rich in enzymes, protein, lecithin,linoleic acid and B12. It is only 8-14 percent salt|
|Low sodium Kikkoman soy sauce||193mg||It’s made from naturally brewed soy sauce, but with 37% less sodium.|
|Tamari soy sauce sodium reduced||233mg|
|h.Bragg Liquid Aminos||220mg||Braggs- is a tasty liquid protein containing essential and nonessential amino acids, derived from soybeans and may be used in or on a variety of foods.|
|Sea Salt- ie Celtic, Haiwaiin Red||2300mg||Sea salts have equal amount of sodium however · “Sea salt contains about 80 mineral elements that are beneficial to the body||Ordinary table salt that is bought in the super markets has been
|Salt Alternatives ie Also Salt||Sodium-0mgPotassium-1460mg||Mixture of potassium chloride, a naturally occurring salt approved for food use, L-lysine, an amino acid essential for human nutrition, and calcium stearate, another natural ingredient added to keep AlsoSalt flowing freely.|
|20 Herbs to add to your cooking for heart health||Herb||Comments|
|1||Garlic||Promotes cardiovascular health, adds tons of flavor|
|2||Whole Peppercorns||Improves digestion. Recommend grinding for more flavor|
|3||Oregano||Assists blood sugar regulation and immunity. Rub between palms before adding to release more flavor.|
|4||Basil||Helps reduce spasms, pain ,inflammation, ulcers and blood pressure. Compliments oregano.|
|5||Dill Weed||Aids digestion and colic in inants. Essential for fish.|
|6||Paprika||Antimicrobial , promotes healthly cirulation and a digestive aide|
|7||Cumin||High in iron and aids digestion. Essential for Mexican dishes.|
|8||Cinnamon||Antimicrobial and Anticlotting. Baking and curries.|
|9||Nutmeg||Aids digestion and blood pressure. Gives dishes a kick|
|10||Rosemary||Promotes circulation , healthy liver and reduces joint pain. Poultry basic.|
|11||Saffron||Promotes a healthy mood and may reduce risk of cancer.Truly worth the expense. A little goes a long way.|
|12||Sage||Aids indigestion , sore throats. A must for poultry.|
|13||Thyme||Helps chest and respiratory concerns.Good with meat and poultry.|
|14||Parsley||Antioxidant protection, it counters anaemia, is a traditional diuretic and may help kidney function and gout. It is also a good source of folate and Vitamin C.Good for adding color. Mild flavor.|
|15||Bay Leaf||Assists ailments of the kidney, liver, stomach and can be applied topically for insect stings. A must for soups and stews.|
|16||Tarragon||Used for toothaches and pain.Good with seafood and poultry.|
|17||Onion||Great for lung congestion. Flavor booster instead of salt.|
|18||Chile||Antimicrobial, Anticoagulant, and Anti-inflammatory properties . Opens sinus|
|19||Celery Seed||Antiseptic properties.|
|20||Lemongrass||Calms nervous system, insomnia, stress and mild insect repellent|
Home made Soy Sauce with reduced sodium:
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup boiling water
1. Combine all the ingredients. At this point, you can either a) use the sauce as is, leaving for an hour to give the flavors a chance to blend, or b) for a thicker, richer sauce, boil the liquid until it is reduced by half, about 3 tablespoons.
2. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Use the sauce within 3 – 4 days.
(Your Guide to Chinese Cuisine, Rhonda Parkinson)
Cardiovascular Health Treatment Option Consider Medical Infrared Sauna Treatment