Love your Heart – and extend your life: Naturally
By Dr. Suzanna Ivanovics, ND
Because February is National Heart Month, now is the time to consider the health of our most important organ: the heart. The most common cause of mortality and morbidity is cardiovascular disease — accounting for nearly 30% of deaths worldwide. The good news? This is a preventable cause of death. Cardiovascular disease (CVD or aka heart disease) is a term that encompasses diseases of the heart and/or blood vessels. A major category of CVD is atherosclerosis: the build up of calcified plaque on the arteries – causing narrowing and making it harder for the arteries to efficiently deliver oxygen rich blood to the heart and other tissues. If a blood clot forms, blood flow may stop, possibly leading to a heart attack or stroke. Other types of CVD include:
- Heart failure: The heart doesn’t pump blood efficiently
- Arrhythmia: Abnormal rhythm of the heart,
- Valve problems such as stenosis
- Regurgitation or prolapse
Most individuals have at least one risk factor for CVD. While risk factors such as age, gender, and family history are beyond our control, the good news is that the majority of CVD is caused by risk factors that are within our control or can be modified by changes in our diet and lifestyle. The risk factors that YOU can control include:
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High cholesterol or triglycerides
Luckily, naturopathic medicine can address many of the lifestyle factors associated with heart disease and often times reduce the predisposition to the disease. Here are a few thoughts to get you on the road to better health:
Diet and exercise to manage your insulin: Due to the correlation between elevated insulin and glucose levels and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, ensure that you are engaging in regular exercise and be sure to manage your insulin levels through diet.
Optimize your Vitamin D levels: A deficiency in Vitamin D has also been associated with an increase in CVD risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and an increase in heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. Not only is Vitamin D beneficial for mood and preventing certain types of cancers, now a growing body of evidence has identified vitamin D deficiency as a potential widespread risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A recently published retrospective study of over 10,000 individuals spanning a five year period found increased mortality, obesity, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease in patients with vitamin D deficiency, and a better survival rate for patients receiving vitamin D supplementation – significant in those with a documented deficiency. If you do not yet know your Vitamin D status, be sure to get it tested and speak to your MD or ND about how to optimize this important vitamin.
Increase your Omega 3 intake: In short, having the right fatty acids is an important factor in maintaining good health. Research supports that the proper intake of Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce all-cause mortality (defined as the risk of dying from any illness) by 30% and that insufficient intake of key Omega-3 fatty acids may be considered an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. Omega 3 fatty acids are highly anti-inflammatory and demonstrate tremendous benefit for regulating heart rhythm, preventing coronary artery disease, reducing plaque formation and lowering triglycerides. Unfortunately, just supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids may not be enough. If you are at increased risk, be sure to check your Omega 3 fatty acid status using the Omega Quant test to ensure that your Omega 3 fatty acids are optimal for prevention of disease. Dr. Suzanna now offers the Omega Quant test, a simple finger prick test to assess for Omega 3 status as well as the presence of Omega 6. The balance is key and this test helps you to understand whether there is underlying inflammation that may predispose you to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Manage stress: Often easier said than done, stress not only affects our quality of life but can affect our metabolism, raise cholesterol, triglycerides, cortisol, and lead to insulin resistance. Stress is the silent killer and an individualized naturopathic prescription can help you manage chronic stress and improve not only your quality of life but also extend your life.
Use food and herbs as medicine: Renowned for centuries, various plant based medicines have been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce atherosclerosis, improve circulation, and maintain the muscular function of the heart and blood vessels. A naturopathic dietary regime can help you to improve your cardiovascular health with basic, manageable changes that can have dramatic results.
For more information on Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acid testing or if you wish to schedule an appointment to discuss your cardiovascular health, please contact Satori Health and Wellness at 416.972.9355 or email Dr. Suzanna at email@example.com.
Be well. Good