Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting both men and women.  Although some heart disease is caused by genetic factors the vast majority is due to lifestyle and the environment.  By taking steps to protect your heart and cardiovascular system, you are making a valuable investment in your long-term health.  Below are some general recommendations.  If you have existing heart disease, be sure you consult a qualified health care professional before making any changes.

1)      Exercise – Exercise improves circulation, reduces stress, helps to control weight and strengthens the heart muscle.  It is important to find the appropriate exercise for your current state of health.  Pushing yourself to hard, may lead to injury.

2)      Strengthen your Blood Vessels – Proper nutrition is the key to strong, elastic blood vessels.  To form the muscles and connective tissue that makes up the vessel walls you need the proper building blocks. A diet rich in high quality protein, bioflavinoids, vitamin C, and other nutrients is essential for heart health.

3)      Reduce Inflammation – Most damage to the heart muscle and the blood vessels is a result of inflammation and oxidative damage.  Environmental factors, poor diet and genetics all play a role in promoting inflammation.  By making appropriate changes and using natural  anti-inflammatories, damage can be prevented before it occurs.

4)      Balance your Blood Sugar – Diabetes is one of the highest risk factors for heart disease.  This is because elevated blood sugar (even in the pre-diabetic range) leads to abnormal “Glycosylated” proteins or “AGEs”.  These molecules cause much of the vascular damage associated with diabetes.  In addition, the elevated insulin levels associated with high sugar consumption signal the liver to produce more fat and cholesterol.  For more information, watch for upcoming blog posts on blood sugar balance.

5)      Nourish your Lungs – The heart pumps all of our blood through the lungs to pick up the oxygen needed by the rest of the body.  If there is any illness in the lungs, the heart has to work harder.  Chronic lung disease can easily lead to heart disease. It is important to get appropriate treatment for lung disease to prevent these complications.