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Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

 

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming over 600,000 lives every year! But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to suffer from heart disease simply because it runs in your family. In fact, 80% of cardiovascular disease is preventable through dietary and lifestyle changes.

Getting At The Root Of Heart Disease

Before we dive into what you can do to prevent heart disease, it is necessary to understand what causes it in the first place. Numerous factors can play a part, so let’s look at some of the most important ones.

Stress

Stress is rampant in our culture, and it is one of the leading root causes of almost every chronic disease. Elevated stress hormones can increase cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar. This damages the blood vessels and leads to the development of plaques. Stress hormones can make the blood “stickier,” more prone to clotting, and cause poor blood flow to the heart. It’s the perfect recipe for a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke.

Depression

Loneliness, depression, and anxiety are significant sources of stress and systemic inflammation. One study found that people suffering from depression were twice as likely to have a cardiovascular event. This highlights the importance of taking a multi-faceted approach that addresses the mental and emotional aspects of health.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Our bodies were made to move, and a lack of physical activity can be deadly. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor circulation, weakened heart muscle, obesity, and blood sugar imbalances.

Smoking & Alcohol Use

Smoking deprives the body of oxygen, causes inflammation of the blood vessels, and promotes the development of plaque and blood clots. Smoking is also a leading cause of abdominal aortic aneurysms. Heavy alcohol use is known to increase blood pressure and weaken the heart muscle.

Metabolic Issues

Blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance, high insulin levels, elevated triglycerides, and excess weight place people at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. These problems are linked to the Standard American Diet, heavy in sugar, refined flour, and inflammatory fats.

Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Inflammation can be caused by many things, including stress, poor diet, toxins, and chronic infections. Functional medicine doctors often use a high sensitivity C Reactive Protein test (hsCRP) to assess patients’ level of systemic inflammation.

Poor Sleep

Sleep apnea and an overall lack of sleep are known risk factors for heart disease. They are linked to inflammation, diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

A Functional Solution

The good news is that most of these risk factors are within your control. Let’s look at the preventative, functional medicine approach to cardiovascular disease.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

There is no one-size-fits-all diet for heart health. Some studies show the Mediterranean diet to be heart-healthy. Others show positive results with a vegetarian or vegan diet. That said, there are a few principles that hold true across the board:
  • Eat plenty of plant-based foods rich in fiber and phytonutrients.
  • Stick to whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Include foods high in anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Support the microbiome with fermented foods.
  • Cut out sugar, refined flour, processed meats, and inflammatory fats.

Cultivate Stress Resilience

Make a point of reducing and releasing stress whenever possible. Drop or delegate things you don’t absolutely have to do. Be willing to request and receive help. Include practices such as breathwork, meditation, EFT, or yoga to release stress regularly.

Stay Connected

Make an effort to connect with positive, like-minded people. Being a part of a community of caring people can work wonders to stave off loneliness and depression. Strong relationships are not only good for mental and emotional health, but they are also good for the heart!

Get Moving

The best way to strengthen your heart muscle is with exercise. Moving for just 30 minutes, five days a week has a tremendous impact on cardiovascular health. Walking, cycling and interval training are all excellent options.

Optimize Your Sleep

Try to set a regular sleep schedule and allow yourself at least 8 hours of sleep. Switch to dimmer lighting at least an hour before bed, and aim for total darkness in your bedroom. Also include stress-releasing practices like breathwork, meditation, or journaling before bed if you have difficulty falling asleep.

Targeted Supplementation

There are several supplements that functional medicine practitioners may recommend based on your unique needs. They include:
  • CoQ10
  • Magnesium
  • Omega 3s
  • B vitamins
  • Berberine

If you are concerned about your cardiovascular health, now is the time to act! Dr. Sisu can help you assess your risk factors and create a personalized plan for cardiovascular health. Call today to schedule an appointment.

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