Updated: Mar 4, 2019
According to the American Heart Association and health statistics in the United States, the answer is yes. About 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds. Deaths from cardiovascular disease have decreased thanks to technology and modern medicine. However, cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause for global death and the number one cause for death in the United States. Heart attacks can be due to physical and emotional stress. Have any of those? Who doesn’t? Both cause acidity and inflammation which after chronic exposure, cause chronic destruction. This destruction occurs in the gut first, even if we do not have digestive symptoms.
Too much cholesterol is the physical cause for most heart attacks. Cholesterol accumulates into hardened plaques inside the walls of our arteries which narrows them and restricts blood flow called artherosclerosis. Those plaques rupture and swim downstream to block the heart's major source of blood flow, the coronary artery. Lack of blood flow causes suffocation of the heart known as a heart attack. Cholesterol is essential for us but when concentrations in the blood get too high, it becomes a silent danger. Saturated fat, red meat, full-fat dairy, cheese, trans fat, margarine, hydrogenated oil, processed food, fried food, baked goods, and sugar raises cholesterol and inflammation in the body. Other physical causes of heart attacks include congenital defects, infection, and lung problems.
Another type of heart attack can be caused from emotional stress called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress cardiomyopathy. Japanese doctors named this condition “takotsubo” because the heart takes on a shape that resembles a Japanese pot used to trap an octopus. The condition was commonly believed to be caused by sudden emotional stress, such as the death of a child or loved one. Some people call this "broken-heart syndrome." Emotional and psychological stress increases cortisol levels in the body which creates an environment of acidity and inflammation.
Stress is killing us in more ways than one but convenience makes it all ok. Convenience has brought our society forward to a new way of living. Could you imagine waking up every day and not knowing when your next meal Is? Imagine no drive throughs, no coffees to go, or grocery stores. Convenience is delicious and as Americans, we expect nothing less. Yet, as delicious as it is, it comes with a cost. It's the law of nature to have balance in life, with good things, we get the not so good things. The downside to convenience is that many of us do not: eat real foods, eat meat that isn't poisoned with fear, meal prep, keep hydrated, cook from home, garden, fast, exercise regularly, talk to other people, understand the earth, meditate, walk enough, or have skills to survive. Not doing these things is increasing our physical and emotional risk for a heart attack. I'm not talking about everyone here. Many of us practice these things, but do we practice them consistently? It's hard. I get it. There is hope. I provide some ways to protect yourself and blood tests to see how well your heart is doing below. First, here are some risk factors that you can work on now with lifestyle changes.
Here are important risk factors for heart disease that you can do something about:
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol
Diabetes and prediabetes
Being overweight or obese
Being physically inactive
Having a family history of early heart disease
Having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
Age (55 or older for women)
NEW predictor: male-pattern baldness and premature greying in men
Know your risk for heart disease with simple blood tests.
I recommend the following tests:
Complete Blood Count: checks blood size, color, production, and function.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel: checks glucose levels, electrolytes, liver function, kidney function.
Urinalysis: assesses for glucose or ketones or blood in the urine that you can't see.
C-Reactive Protein: shows inflammation and heart disease/stroke risk.
Apolipoprotein B/A1: determines risk for coronary artery disease.
Lipid Panel (Cholesterol): to see how clogged your arteries are.
Ask your doctor to get these done or order one comprehensive test that includes all of these online here: https://www.ultalabtests.com/drfelty/Shop/Items/Item/Advanced-Cardiovascular-Health-Basic. You can print the form and go to a lab near you. You will get the results within a week. You can also have the lab results sent to me and once they arrive, we can set up a consultation to go over the findings and decrease your risk for heart attack. Knowledge is power and heart attacks are silent killers. How will we know if we are at risk for a heart attack, if we don't check? Nothing is more important than our health.
Lifestyle changes are first line treatment to any chronic condition for a naturopathic doctor. Here are some tips to protect your heart health.
Foods To Decrease Cholesterol:
oats (steel cut, non GMO, organic)
beans (organic and sprouted)
eggplant and okra (organic)
nuts (non GMO, organic, and not roasted)
vegetable oil (olive, coconut avocado)
fruits (berries, lemon)
fatty fish (particularly salmon, tuna, and sardines)
foods rich in fiber - (organic dark leafy greens, vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cabbage)
Herbs To Decrease Cholesterol:
Artichoke leaf extract
Hawthorn (heart protective)
Supplements To Decrease Cholesterol:
Alpha Lipoic Acid
A Few Ways To Decrease Blood Pressure and Stress:
Meditation (Apps: Headspace, Pacifica, Insight Timer)
Qigong (4 minute exercise we can do at home)
Gratitude (Think of 3 things every morning and night we are grateful for, maybe the fact that we are breathing and alive?)
Yoga (Check out youtube or go to a local studio nearby. They usually give free guest passes.)
Exercise (Walk daily in nature, Run if you can at least once per week, and Cardio and strength training)
Garden and get into nature.
Walk barefoot in the grass and soil.
Get a community! Friendships enhance our health and help us live longer.
This is not a treatment plan or protocol. Everyone is individual and has individual needs. These are general tips and recommendations that are evidence-based. For a personalized consultation and strategy to protect your heart, contact me at 262-757-8911 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Always consult with your doctor before making any health changes. However, the best physician is your own body and the best healer is you. I encourage you to take charge of your health and protect your heart from the physical and emotional stress we all face.
Dr. Cresencia Felty