Helpful, not Hopeless, Healthy Heart Tips

Courtesy photo    With Valentine’s Day just a week ago, it might be a good time to check up on the health of your heart.

More than 50 years ago President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed February American Heart Month. Every year doctors announce new magic pills or surgical techniques to cure heart problems. Cardiovascular disease has been attributed to smoking, eating habits, weight problems, high-cholesterol, high blood pressure and just plain genetic bad luck. 

Unfortunately, more awareness of these risk factors has not led to a decrease in cardiovascular associated deaths in the United States. The American Heart Association reports that 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of one death every 38 seconds. 

People can experience up to 70 percent blockage of their coronary arteries and never experience any outward symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Chest pain spreading to neck, jaw and arms
  • Fatigue, dizziness, migraine headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Palpitations caused by irregular heartbeats
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
  • Cold sweat

These all warrant an emergency call to 911, as this may save a life. 

In spite of all the new drugs and surgical procedures, which are prudent in emergency situations, heart disease, like the majority of the other top killers in the U.S., are largely preventable. These drugs and surgeries treat the problem, not the cause. Overwhelming evidence in the medical literature proves doctors can improve and even reverse heart disease. 

If doctors are not testing, they are guessing. The best blood lipid-related marker of heart disease risk is the total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio, which should ideally be 4:1. This can be influenced by a variety of factors including liver function, thyroid activity, insulin management and overall inflammation. A doctor can help look at which one of these applies most.

Next, one of the most underestimated and yet valuable markers is the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which should also be 4:1. This is largely related to diet. 

Consider starting some other dietary changes today to live a long, healthy life: replacing sugars and refined carbohydrates with healthy fats and fiber, and getting regular amounts of CoQ10, magnesium and B-vitamins are all cardio-protective. Early correction of any periodontal issues is wise as there are deep-rooted connections between the mouth and heart. 

Since the cardiovascular system is stimulated by the nervous system, chiropractic care has been proven to lower risk of heart disease. And of course, the heart is a muscle, and like all muscles, it responds to exercise. 

 

Dr. Tim Heath DC, MBA, CCEP, is a board-certified primary care doctor. He runs Optimized Wellness Center, a multidisciplinary functional medicine practice in Alameda. None of this information is intended to be medical advice or should be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis or determine treatment for a medical condition without personalized recommendation by a doctor.