Let’s start with the startling facts – as of 2018, 30.3 million US adults were diagnosed with heart disease. Many physicians are quick to prescribe pharmaceutical medications to slow the progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD). As a person who has a pre-disposition to CVD, I have spent a lot of time finding ways to stay off medications – and have been successful!
What has helped me is understanding the factors that lead to CVD and the best practices to incorporate into my life. Much of the information I’ll be sharing in this blog post is from a book called “Reverse Heart Disease Now” by Drs. Stephen Sinatra and James Roberts. While the book written 25 years ago, it has some very powerful fundamentals that I have been following for many years.
Disclaimer – if you are dealing with CVD or haven’t visited a medical provider in a while, please be proactive about your health. Information from blood tests is the best starting point to know what’s going on inside of you. Remember that CVD in its early stage does not have symptoms.
This blog does not constitute medical advice.
Like myself, some people are pre-disposed to CVD. Both my parents had by-pass surgery and took statins to lower their cholesterol. My mother had type 2 diabetes; my father died in his late 60s from a heart attack. I’ll share how I’ve been able to stay heart-healthy and off medications so far!
Common factors that lead to cardiovascular disease
Excessive Sugar In-Take
Sugar is added to most store-bought foods and beverages. While they are naturally found in many whole foods, as we age, our body may not be able to metabolize sugar as well as when we were younger. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in your heart, making them more likely to develop fatty deposits and arterial inflammation.
According to the CDC, almost 50% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. Gum disease is an infectious, inflammatory condition caused by bacteria. For people with weakened immune systems, bacteria entering their system from gum disease could invade susceptible arteries. Our bodies are constantly fighting bacteria in our systems. Yet, research has found a direct co-relation between CVD and continuous gum disease.
We can’t escape stress in our lives and when stress is short-lived, it can help with performance in meeting deadlines, and achieving goals.
Ongoing stress, however, not only takes an emotional and psychological toll, but it can also provide physical symptoms. Stress may lead to high blood pressure (one of many issues), which can pose a risk for heart attack and stroke.
Diet – Trans-Fatty Acids
We know that fats are an important part of our diet. Naturally occurring oils in food (such as salmon and olive oil) are good fats that your body needs. The troublemakers are man-made, partially hydrogenated fats such as corn and canola oil. They are commonly solidified and used as margarine and shortening. As your body processes these fats, they release unnatural chemicals causing damage to cell membranes. This can lead to inflammation, disease, and age-related change increasing the risk of heart disease.
For years, my doctors were too fixated on cholesterol numbers. They would share the same advice – eat less fat and more fiber. I was so frustrated because this wasn’t giving me new or helpful insights. I had to do the research on my own. I also worked with different naturopaths to provide me with a different take on my health – something I recommend to everyone. I’ve learned that high cholesterol doesn’t necessarily have a damaging effect on your heart. I’ve had high cholesterol for decades and I have no build-up of plaque or signs of heart disease based on a recent CAT scan.
What has worked for me?
I have taken a whole health approach focusing on exercise, diet, and emotional wellbeing. Start with these four tips.
- Be intentional with what you eat. Eliminate refined sugars and have more health fats. Olive oil, nuts, fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines) and avocado are easy foods to incorporate into your diet.
- Maintain a daily routine of good oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly for cleanings. I sell a dental plan that provides 100% coverage for 3 cleanings and 2 exams a year as part of the preventative coverage.
- Manage your stress by incorporating some of these practices into your life – meditation, laughing and exercise.
- Socialize with friends regularly. There are so many wonderful benefits of being in social situations. Many cultures around the world make social interaction a way of life, and they live healthier lives than Americans.
These small changes can help you build a foundation for good heart health enabling you to lead a joyful and productive life for many years to come.