Preventing Heart Disease: A Guide To A Healthy Heart
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on February 10, 2010 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Can you guess what the number one killer in all of North America is? No, not cancer (although we seem to be in the middle of an epidemic). The number one killer of all North Americans is heart disease.
High cholesterol is a leading cause of heart disease; when there is too much fat present in the blood, it can create a plaque build-up. This significantly raises the risk of heart disease and its ailments, including heart attack, stroke, failure, and death. The chance of developing heart disease can be greatly reduced by controlling this risk factor.
Common causes include:
- Eating foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol
- Leading an inactive lifestyle
- Being overweight
- Unhappiness and stress (I think this is the main cause, but who the heck am I?)
Unfortunately there are often no common symptoms of high cholesterol. The only way to find out if you have high cholesterol is through a cholesterol test. A cholesterol test is a blood test that will look at the key lipids, or fats, that are in the blood. Either that, or suffering one of the gravest of all heart disease ailments: HEART ATTACK.
Symptoms Of Heart Attack
The five major symptoms of a heart attack are:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
- Shortness of breath.
What To Do If You Or Someone You Know Is Having A Heart Attack
If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, you should:
- Call 9-1-1 immediately!
- Chew Aspirin: When I took my First Aid course this was the first thing they told us to do. Why? Aspirin works by inhibiting the blood’s ability to clot. It does this by interfering with the action of platelets, a component of blood that is involved in the formation of blood clots. Aspirin has also been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory chemicals, which in turn may inhibit the development of atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.” Chewing aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of death during a heart attack. (Thanks again, Center For Disease Control. These peeps are great!)
Preventing heart disease and its ailments can be simple, as long as you take care of yourself! This means adopting and maintaining a healthy diet low in animal and saturated fats/salt/sugar (RAW! RAW! RAW!), exercising, managing stress, not smoking, and feeling happy. For more information on heart disease check out THIS LINK.
Supplementation By Nature
Phytosterols, or plant sterols, have been shown in research studies to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Positive research and studies have shown the effects of phytosterols on cholesterol with one study concluding that consuming 2 grams of phytosterols daily could slash the risk of heart disease by as much as 25%. The FDA has recently approved the following claim on supplements containing phytosterols: Dietary supplements or food containing at least 400mg per serving of free phytosterols, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 800mg, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. Salicin, a natural anti-inflammatory agent similar to aspirin, and Nattokinase, an enzyme traditionally used in Japan as a clot-buster and blood thinner, can also help. Both ingredients work together to minimize chances of developing heart and vascular diseases.
Photo Credit: paultomlin
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan