Cardiovascular disease remains the top leading cause of mortality in the United States. CentrespringMD would like to do their part in bringing awareness during American Heart Month by providing you with tips on how to prevent and manage one of the most vital systems in the body.  

Exercise

Exercise should be a part of everyone’s lifestyle. There are numerous studies on how aerobic and resistance exercise can reduce blood sugar and blood pressure in just one session. When deciding on an exercise regimen, it is important to start with small goals first and gradually work your way up to at least 30 minutes, 4 to 5 days a week. will also mention our biggest tip for getting through a workout is breathing! We forget to properly breathe with our body movements when exercising. Pay attention to how often and how deeply you are breathing next time you do yoga, lift weights, or even go for a power walk. It can make a world of a difference in your endurance, stamina, recovery, and mindset. 

Sleep 

Sleep is often neglected.  We pack our day with items from our “to-do” list and by the end of the day it’s past our bedtime and we may pick more work or extra leisure time over sleep.  But sleep is when the heart and body recovers from the day.  Getting less than 6 hours of sleep can increase your risk of heart attack by twenty percent.  If you are having interrupted sleep it is important to seek medical help because conditions like sleep apnea can also increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes because less oxygen is getting to the heart.  

Avoid Tobacco Products

It is known that smoking can lead to long-term lung and cardiovascular changes, but recent studies show that quitting can reverse some of those changes within hours of your last cigarette and actually reduce your risk of heart attack heart failure, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and premature death.  So it is never too late to quit.  If you are a current smoker, make it a goal to create a smoking cessation plan this year and feel your heart healing every hour you are NOT smoking.

Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins

This can include heavy metals, pesticides, and artificial sweeteners (yes, these are considered toxins because they are still man-made chemicals). This tip is not normally recognized by the cardiovascular world, but at CentrespringMD we have recognized the growing link between the toxins and increasing rate of cardiovascular disease.  

Manage Your Weight

We put weight management on its own, as opposed to linking it to exercise because other factors such as sleep, diet, toxicity load, and stress can all affect it. We all know that obesity in America is on the rise, but it’s not just about the pounds on the scale. Your body composition is important to know as well. Here are optimal stats for men and women: Men should strive for 16% body fat or less with a waist circumference of < 36 inches.  Women should strive for 22% body fat or less with a waist circumference of < 30 inches.  

Nutrition Recommendations

  1. Follow an anti-inflammatory, high fiber, Mediterranean-type diet-  This should include at least 7 servings of multicolored vegetables a day and 2 servings of low sugar fruits like pomegranates and berries. This will ensure that you are getting enough fiber to keep the bad cholesterol low. Oats are another good source of fiber.  Try to replace large meat portions with fish (e.g. salmon) twice a week or with some plant based protein options like hummus, beans, legumes, or nuts/seeds.
  2. Add healthy fats to your diet- You can consume 1-2 grams of natural Omega-3 through a homemade recipe by mixing chia seeds, grounded flaxseeds and hemp seeds.  Having 2 tablespoons a day of uncooked, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil (a healthy Omega-9) a day can decrease your cardiovascular risk by fifty percent!  Side note: All of these combined make a great substitute for salad dressing.  
  3. Drink water- Make it a daily goal to drink half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of filtered water daily. Have some of those ounces in decaffeinated green tea as a healthy antioxidant boost for your heart.
  4. Watch those sugars-  This includes artificial sugars as well.  You should max out at 25 grams daily. Keep an eye on the labels and see how many sugar grams you are getting to by the end of the day.  You will be surprised how quickly you can get to 25 grams. Side note: Cinnamon is a sweet alternative. Adding 2 teaspoons to a meal can reduce glycemic response by forty-six percent!  
  5. Eat protein- Eating protein at regular intervals throughout the day and avoid snacking after dinner. This can reduce blood sugar and belly fat.
  6. Eat organic when possible- As we mentioned in the last section, we are now seeing how toxins are becoming inflammation triggers for our vessels and heart, leading to increased risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attack, aneurysms, and arrhythmias.  Multiple, recent studies have shown a direct correlation between glyphosates and these issues. Keep a close eye on the EWG (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen list for the top foods found to have high levels of pesticides this year.  If you can’t find or afford to buy organic from the store, scrub them well to wash off the pesticide residue.  

Supplement Recommendations

 Many of us are not getting sufficient vitamins and minerals through our diet to support our cardiovascular system, either because we are not eating the foods that contain them, absorption is altered, or some of the nutrients become depleted a result of some of the medications we take. We always recommend trying to get these nutrients through diet first, but here is my top list of certain vitamins, minerals, or herbs beneficial to the heart and reasons why:

  1. Magnesium (in the glycinate/malate/chelated form) can lower blood pressure and regulate heart arrhythmias because it is vital for proper muscle contractions.  Medications like diuretics can lead to depletion and recent studies have shown about 50% of Americans do not meet their daily requirement of magnesium, which is 360-420 mg daily.  
  2. Coenzyme Q10 and Vit E (in the alpha tocopherol form) can become deficient while taking some cholesterol lowering medications. But they are also vital nutrients for detox, vasodilation, and muscle contractions in hypertensive and heart failure patients.
  3. Omega-3 EPA+DHA fish oil can lower bad cholesterol in the blood, slow plaque formation, and reduce blood pressure, arrhythmias, and overall inflammation. If you are a vegetarian or are allergic to fish products, algae supplementation is a good alternative.
  4. We will leave you with a top herb for cardiovascular health- Berberine. It comes from a plant called Coptis chinesis. It has been used in Eastern medicine for over 2,500 years. Recent research has shown that berberine can reduce the bad cholesterol, reduce blood sugars, and protect the heart against heart failure, hypertension, arrhythmias, and platelet aggregation.  

Note that you should be monitored by a healthcare professional before starting any supplements. Supplements can have interactions with medications and dosages should be based on your current blood levels, weight/age, and current health problems. At CentreSpringMD ,we create an integrative heart health care plan in line with current standard guidelines in addition to lifestyle, diet, and supplementation to support you and your future wellness

Rosi PatelRosi Patel is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner who joined CentreSpring MD in early 2017 and is excited to be part of a group of like-minded professionals. Prior to joining the CentreSpring family, she spent 8 years as an emergency room nurse and other various acute and ambulatory settings.

Email appointments@centrespringmd.com to schedule a visit with Rosi Patel.

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Categories: Family Health, Holistic Health