Simple steps you can take today to avoid the nation’s number one killer
The facts are plain as day… according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 652,000 people dying of heart disease in the U.S. each year. That is more than a quarter of all U.S. deaths.1 Sadly, the vast majority of these deaths are avoidable. But the general public is so confused by all the expert recommendations and the misinformation regarding the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system that it is easy to overlook and even easier to tune out important advice.
But it needn’t be as complicated as the drug companies and heart surgeons would like you to think. In fact, what follows is a simple primer on the ABC’s of heart health and what you need to know to protect your heart now and for decades to come.
Heart Health ABC’s
- A = arteries: avoiding arteriosclerosis/ atherosclerosis—also known as hardening of the arteries
- B = blood pressure: maintaining healthy blood pressure is critical to heart health
- C = cholesterol: know the difference between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol
Understanding these ABC’s and taking the appropriate steps to ensure you monitor and maintain the status of each of these important aspects of heart health is the key to avoiding cardiovascular disease. Let’s take a brief look at these ABC’s and discuss some nutritional solutions to keeping your heart healthy.
A is for arteries— healthy arteries keeps the blood flowing
Arterial blockage is often the first sign of impending cardiovascular trouble. If your blood can’t get to and from the heart because of calcifi ed plaque build up or blood clots, then it can’t carry the life-giving oxygen your body needs to function properly.
Of course, preventing hardening of the arteries and arterial blockage is much preferred to pharmaceutical solutions or worse, invasive surgeries. Supplements that can keep your blood flowing include:
- B Vitamins—Shown to signifi – cantly reduce the progression of earlystage subclinical atherosclerosis.2
- Emblica Extract—Powerful antioxidant proven to reduce serum cholesterol and aortic plaque3
- EDTA Oral Chelation—Prevents arterial calcification by removing harmful toxins and plaque before they can interfere with the arteries’ endothelial function.4
- Hawthorn Extract—The ultimate heart tonic. Hawthorn extract improves blood fl ow by dilating blood vessels.5
- L-Arginine—Promotes nitric oxide in the body; an essential compound that helps blood circulation.6
- Omega-3 fatty acids—Reduces triglyceride levels and makes the blood less likely to form clots that cause heart attacks.7
- Nattokinase—Supports the body’s ability to break up and dissolve the unhealthy coagulation of blood.8
- Pine Bark Extract—Helps strengthen blood vessels and increase blood flow.9
- Resveratrol—Relaxes the endothelium that lines the arteries, allowing for efficient blood flow.10
- Salvia miltiorrhiza—Has been shown to be more effective than nitroglycerin for improving heart function and circulation.11
- Taurine—Amino acid that has been shown to prevent the development of atherosclerosis.12
- Vitamin K2—Promotes blood vessel elasticity by safeguarding elastin, and prevents arterial calcification.13
All the supplements listed above support healthy artery function, but they all work in slightly different ways. As you will see as we move on, some of these supplements also support healthy blood pressure and reduce cholesterol, as well as promoting arterial circulation.
B is for blood pressure— healthy blood pressure safeguards your circulatory system
Medical professionals call high blood pressure (hypertension) the silent killer and are constantly on the look out for it in their patients. Think about it, what’s one of the first things that happens when you visit the doctor’s office? They take your blood pressure, of course.
If your blood pressure is high it causes strain on the vessels carrying blood around your body. This strain can cause vessels to become injured leading to plaque buildup as a response to injury. This can lead to narrow blood vessels and then clotting of the blood passageways, which can cause damage to the heart and/or brain.
High blood pressure also makes your heart muscle work harder. This can ultimately lead to heart failure if the strain on the heart to move the blood through your body becomes too much.
The good news is, high blood pressure is treatable, no matter how old you may be. Simple lifestyle changes can be made like reducing stress levels, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
If your blood pressure is extremely elevated, your doctor may prescribe pharmaceutical drugs designed to lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, these drugs carry their own health risks in addition to some unpleasant side effects.
Before going the pharmaceutical route, you might want to try some of the supplements listed below which have demonstrated the ability to naturally lower blood pressure.
- Green Coffee Bean Extract—The chlorogenic acid contained in green coffee bean extract has been proven to lower blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension.14
- EDTA Oral Chelation—Powerful antioxidant protects arteries and blood vessels by chelating mercury, lead, and other heavy metals that can constrict blood flow.15
- Hawthorn Extract—Acts as a natural calcium channel blocker and an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.
- Omega-3 fatty acids—Contains anti-inflammatory eicosanoids that support normal blood pressure by relaxing the arteries and blood vessels and decreasing blood lipids.16
- Nattokinase—Improves blood viscosity to support normal blood pressure.17
- Pine Bark Extract—Contains oligomeric proanthocyanidin compounds (OPCs) that bind to the collagen in blood vessel walls making capillaries stronger and more elastic, which subsequently improves circulation and reduces blood pressure.
- Salvia miltiorrhiza—Reduces blood pressure by inhibiting angiotensin- converting enzyme (ACE).18
- Taurine—Lowers blood pressure by facilitating the relaxation of the heart muscle.19
Medical professionals refer to high blood pressure as the silent killer because there are few symptoms until heart related problems appear. Monitoring your blood pressure is easy as there are inexpensive home blood pressure monitoring systems available.
C is for cholesterol— don’t ignore this important heart health risk factor
Quick, can you name the best selling class of prescription medicine? If you said statin drugs like Lipitor® and Crestor® you are correct.
These statin drugs work by blocking the production of cholesterol in the liver, which lowers LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol and slightly raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. But here’s the problem … these drugs are laden with side effects and are now proven to pose potentially life-threatening risks. Of course, the reason doctors prescribe so many statin drugs is because elevated cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease. There are three cholesterol measurements you need to understand in order to plot your best course of action with regard to reducing your cardiovascular risk.
- Total cholesterol—this is the most common measure of blood cholesterol. Often it’s the only number you get from your doctor. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). A total cholesterol reading less than 200 mg/dL means a lower risk of heart disease. Any reading over 200 is considered high cholesterol and an urgent risk factor for heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol—this is the “good” cholesterol that helps carry cholesterol out of the body. If there is too much cholesterol for the HDLs to pick up, or an inadequate supply of HDLs, cholesterol may aggregate into plaque groups that block arteries. Remember, when it comes to HDL cholesterol, higher is healthier. A reading of less than 40 is low, at or greater than 60 is high.
- LDL cholesterol—this is the “bad” cholesterol that hauls cholesterol from the liver to all cells in the body. For those at risk of Cardiovascular Disease the lower you get your LDL, the better. A reading of less than 100 is optimal; 100-129 is near or above optimal; 130-159, borderline high; 160-189, high; 190 or greater is very high.
If you want to protect your cardiovascular system, controlling your cholesterol levels is important. If you want to avoid the risk (and expense!) of statin drugs, consider the following healthy cholesterol supporting supplements.
- Ashwagandha—Lowers blood glucose, serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad cholesterol).20
- EDTA Oral Chelation—Lowers cholesterol by removing toxins from the blood and liver, allowing for better HDL production.21
- Emblica Extract—Reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) through its powerful cholesterol regulating and multi-faceted antioxidant properties.22
- Omega-3 fatty acids—Long chain fatty acids found in fish oil can balance cholesterol levels.23
- Policosanol—Regulates the production of the cholesterol-producing enzyme to more favorable levels and enhances the body’s ability to remove and process LDL cholesterol from the blood and cells.24
Understanding cholesterol and knowing your cholesterol levels is the first step to reducing the risk elevated cholesterol plays in your health. If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, you may first want to give the supplements listed a try (particularly policosanol!) before embarking on statin drug therapy.
ABC’s easy as 123
As you can see, heart health is important, but it need not be complicated. There are natural substances that have been in use for thousands of years to protect the heart and circulatory system.
For the most part, these supplements are side effect-free and, when taken on a regular basis, can keep your heart functioning at an optimal level.
Now is the time to take action. Heart health is as easy as ABC—Arteries, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol.
Taking care of these important functions now is a wise investment in your health, particularly when compared to the cost of the expensive alternatives offered by the medical establishment. Know your ABC’s and take care of them and your heart will take care of you!
- Hodis HN, Mack WJ, Dustin L, Mahrer PR, Azen SP, Detrano R, Selhub J, Alaupovic P, Liu CR, Liu CH, Hwang J, Wilcox AG. High-dose B vitamin supplementation and progression of subclinical atherosclerosis: a randomized controlled trial. Stroke. 2009 Mar;40(3):670-1.
- Thakur CP. Emblica officinalis reduces serum, aortic and hepatic cholesterol in rabbits. Experientia. 1985 Mar 15;41(3):423-4.
- Evans DA, Tariq M, Sujata B, McCann G, Sobki S. The effects of magnesium sulphate and EDTA in the hypercholesterolaemic rabbit.Diabetes Obes Metab. 2001 Dec;3(6):417-22.
- Petkov V: Plants with hypotensive, antiatheromatuous and coronarodilating action. Am Chin Med, 1979;7,197-236.
- Wright, J, M.D. and Lenard L PhD, Maximize Your Vitality & Potency For Men Over 40, Smart Publications, Petaluma, CA, 1999, p. 225.
- Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention-management of cardiovascular disease. Can J Physiol Pharmacol.
- Sumi, H. et al. “Enhancement of the fibrinolytic activity in plasma by oral administration of nattokinase.” Acta haematol 1990, 84: 139-43.
- Koch R. Comparative study of Venostasin and Pycnogenol in chronic venous insufficiency. Phytother Res. 2002 Mar;16 Suppl 1:S1.
- Novakovic A, Bukarica LG, Kanjuh V, Heinle H. Potassium channels-mediated vasorelaxation of rat aorta induced by resveratrol.Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2006 Nov;99(5):360-4.
- Bai YR, Wang SZ. Hemodynamic study on nitroglycerin compared with Salvia miltiorrhiza. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1994 Jan;14(1):24-5, 4.
- Murakami S, Kondo Y, Sakurai T, Kitajima H, Nagate. “Taurine suppresses development of atherosclerosis in Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits.” Atherosclerosis 2002 Jul;163(1):79-87.
- Seyama Y, Wachi H. Atherosclerosis and matrix dystrophy. J Athero Thromb 2004;11(5):236-4
- Kozuma K, Tsuchiya S, Kohori J et al. Antihypertensive effect of green coffee bean extract on mildly hypertensive subjects. Hypertens Res. 2006;28:711-8.
- Chappell LT, Janson M. EDTA chelation therapy in the treatment of vascular disease. J Cardiovasc Nurs. 1996; 10:78-86.
- Connor, William E. Importance of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71 (suppl), January 2000, pp. 171S-75S.
- Maruyama M, Sumi H. Effect of Natto Diet on Blood Pressure.JTTAS, 1995.
- Kang DG, Yun YG, Ryoo JH, Lee HS. Anti-hypertensive effect of water extract of danshen on renovascular hypertension through inhibition of the renin angiotensin system. Am J Chin Med.2002;30(1):87-93.
- Militante JD, Lombardini JB. Treatment of hypertension with oral taurine: experimental and clinical studies. Amino Acids.2002;23(4):381-93.
- Andallu B, Radhika B. Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root. Indian J Exp Biol. 2000 Jun;38(6):607-9.
- Perry, H. Mitchell, Schroeder, Henry A. Depression of cholesterol levels in human plasma following ethylenediamine tetracetate and hydralazine. J Chronic Diseases, 1955, 2: 5, 520-532.
- Jacob A, Pandey M, Kapoor S, Saroja R. Effect of the Indian gooseberry (amla) on serum cholesterol levels in men aged 35-55 years. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1988 Nov;42(11):939-44.
- Whitaker J. Fish oil: a favorite therapy revisited. Health & Healing.1999; 9(7):4-6.
- Menendez R, Amor AM, Rodeiro I, et al, Policosanol modulates HMG-CoA reductase activity in cultured fibroblasts. Arch Med Res2001 Jan-Feb;32(1):8-12.