Looking after your heart
The heart is a muscle which keeps the body running – like the engine in a car – if it stops working, then everything fails. Therefore, it is vitally important that we take steps to look after the health of our heart.
MAJOR RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE
• Physical Inactivity
• High Blood Pressure
• High Cholesterol
So, to look after the heart, we should avoid smoking, stay active and look for natural ways to reduce our cholesterol and blood pressure.
High levels of LDL (often referred to as ‘bad’) cholesterol are linked to the development of heart disease and the formation of plaque in the arteries. This is why doctors will check cholesterol readings and prescribe medications for those who have high levels.
The most common type of medications prescribed for high cholesterol are collectively known as statins. A number of side effects have been attributed to the use of statins, including: headaches, low energy, muscle aches and pains, muscle weakness or tenderness and drowsiness.
Research has indicated that this could be due to the fact that statin medication reduces levels of CO-Q-10 in our body. (1) CO-Q-10 is an enzyme which is required by every single cell in our body to produce energy – so low levels of CO-Q-10 will often cause low energy and tired, aching muscles. (2)
For this reason, many nutritionists and pharmacists will often suggest that people on statin medications try taking a high strength CO-Q-10 supplement alongside, to try and prevent these side effects – often with good results.
RED YEAST RICE
For those concerned about healthy cholesterol levels the supplement Red Yeast Rice may be helpful. Red Yeast Rice contains an active ingredient called Monacolin K; taking just 10mg Monacolin K daily can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Why is high blood pressure so important? Imagine a kink in a garden hose – the pressure which builds up behind the kink can cause damage to the valves and the hose pipe.
When reading blood pressure, we get two readings:
1. The systolic reading – this is the figure mentioned first, and is the pressure of the blood passing through the blood vessels when the heart has just beaten.
2. The diastolic reading – the lower figure, which is the pressure maintained when the heart is resting.
Acceptable blood pressure is around 120-130/80-90.
CO-Q-10 AND BLOOD PRESSURE
CO-Q-10 could be helpful for those suffering with high blood pressure. A review of all the studies carried out on CO-Q-10 for blood pressure showed that this supplement was consistently effective in reducing blood pressure. A reduction of 17mm was seen overall in systolic blood pressure (the top figure) and a reduction of 10mm in diastolic (the bottom figure) – with no serious side effects. (3)
OMEGA 3 FATS
Omega 3 fats from fish oils provide EPA and DHA, which has been shown to support a healthy heart. A review of the studies carried out on the use of EPA and DHA for high blood pressure show a reduction of 4.5mm Hg systolic and 3.05mm Hg diastolic. (4)
People with high blood pressure, tend to have low levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels, improving blood flow and decreasing blood pressure. Taking Beetroot can naturally increase the production of nitric oxide, thus effectively reducing blood pressure. This tends to work quite quickly. Trials have shown a reduction of 14mm Hg in systolic and 7mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure after using beetroot supplements. (5)
Written by Jenny Logan DN Med. (Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for over 20 years)
(1) Coenzyme Q10: University of Maryland Medical Centerhttp://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/coenzyme-q10
(2) Rajiv Saini; Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient; J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011 Jul-Sep; 3(3): 466–467.
(3) Rosenfeldt FL et al; Coenzyme Q10 in the treatment of hypertension: a meta-analysis of the clinical trials; J Hum Hypertens. 2007 Apr;21(4):297-306
(4) A.M. Minihane et al; Consumption of Fish Oil providing amounts of EPA and DHA…reduces Blood Pressure in Adults with Systolic Hypertension; Journal of Nutrition; doi: 10.3945
(5) Eggebeen J et al; One Week of Daily Dosing With Beetroot Juice Improves Submaximal Endurance and Blood Pressure in Older Patients With Heart Failure and Preserved Ejection Fraction; JACC Heart Fail. 2016 Jun;4(6):428-37