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Heart Health – By Dr. Renee Mammone, N.D

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The heart works hard beating about 100,000 times a day and keeps blood pumping throughout your body. Some easy ways to evaluate the health of your heart is pulse rate and blood pressure. The faster your pulse is the less efficient your heart is. Keeping your pulse below 75 beats per minute allows the heart to be more efficient. The range of blood pressure is important as it tells you how forceful your blood is traveling in your body. The higher it is, the more friction against the artery walls and the more chance of arterial damage.

Cholesterol levels are related to your diet. The cholesterol that is flowing in your blood comes from saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. There is the low density lipoprotein (LDL, the bad cholesterol), and you want it to be lower than 130. Bad cholesterol LDL can cause build up in your arteries and make it difficult for optimal blood flow. Then there is high density lipoprotein (HDL, the good cholesterol) and you want it to be higher than 40.  The total cholesterol level is optimal below 200 mg/dl and the lower the levels of triglycerides in the blood the better. The ratio of bad and good cholesterol should be 2 LDLs to 1 HDL. Other tests you should be aware of are homocysteine, high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs CRP is a sign of chronic inflammation throughout your body and is the best test for inflammation in the heart), fibrinogen, and glucose levels.

Are you asking yourself what can be done to help? There are many lifestyle factors that can help maintain a healthy heart or improve its condition. The first step is your diet. It should be low in salt, rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, with adequate water and at least 25 grams of fiber daily. A good heart healthy diet should contain fish, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. If you can’t get enough nutrients from your diet, supplementation is an option.  Types of supplementation include: omegas (fish oil, ground flaxseeds or flaxseed oil), Co Q10, lecithin, antioxidants that help with free radical damage (vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C), selenium, B vitamins, folic acid, and chromium. Other nutrients that are helpful are botanicals such as hawthorn and garlic.  It is ideal to maintain a healthy weight and keep your waist size under recommend inches (33 for a female and 40 for a male.) Exercise regularly (30 minutes daily 5 -7 days a week) and get some sun or vitamin D supplementation.

One of the most important lifestyle factors is smoking. Smoking increases your risk for many heart related diseases and many other illnesses. To keep your heart healthy don’t smoke and limit or avoid your exposure to smoke. Stress affects all parts of our health but can be seen very clearly in our heart. Try reducing stress with stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, taking a daily walk and sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night. Taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing has been shown to help maintain a healthy heart.

Just remember blood pressure can be lowered and your bad cholesterol levels can improve. There are many options out there so find the one that works for you. If you have not had your heart checked recently make an appointment with a knowledgeable health-care practitioner and take control of your health today.

Dr. Renee Mammone, N.D. is a Connecticut Licensed and nationally Board certified Naturopathic Physician. Dr. Mammone has a practice in Wethersfield, CT and can be reached at (860) 529-1200 or http://www.NAHcenter.com.