By Dr. Kirsten Singler, NMD
February is the month for love, valentines, and hearts, so this article is dedicated to keeping your ticker working at its best. The reality is that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death is the United States. Sadly, the Center for Disease Control reports that more than 610,000 people die from heart disease every year. Fortunately, there are excellent preventative steps you can take to reduce your risk.
1. See your naturopathic doctor for work up and treatment.
This may seem a little too obvious to make it to the top of the list, but the fact is that many people are unaware of their own risk for heart attack. The best first step is to see your physician for evaluation of blood pressure, lipids, vascular inflammatory markers, and health screening. Your physician should take genetic predisposition into account as well as lifestyle, stress, and diet. She will create a personalize plan to specifically address your needs. Your naturopath will recommended specific supplements that are tailored for your specific needs. Here at San Tan Natural Medicine, we have created a heart health program for those with significant risk that includes treatments such as specialized IV’s that help clear plaque and inflammation out of the arteries.
2. Consume 6-9 cups of vegetables daily.
Vegetables serve our vascular function in multiple ways. They provide us needed vitamins and minerals that help build vascular integrity, help the body reduce LDL, and fill you up so that you are not hungry for refined carbohydrates. Vegetables also help you lose weight, thereby reducing your risk of heart disease. Consuming vegetables rather than processed food also helps to reduce inflammation; specifically vascular inflammation which is highly tied to heart attacks.
3. Limit stress.
Do a yearly self-assessment of your major stressors. Write down the top 5 stressors and create a plan to resolve these stressors. If you feel that you do not have the resources to figure this out on your own, seek a psychologist or counselor who can help you create a roadmap and plan for resolution. Also, create a daily habit that helps you become centered, focused, and relaxed. This may be as simple as taking 10 deep belly breaths that last 10 seconds each, or it may be the use of apps such as calm.com, heartmath, or headspace. It may be listening to your favorite song while you get ready for the day, or taking 10 minutes in the afternoon to walk barefoot in the grass.
4. Exercise at least 5 days a week.
The bare minimum of exercise you should be getting is 30 minutes of brisk walking (1.5-3 miles) 5 days a week. Other activities you may enjoy are swimming, stationary biking, using an elliptical, joining a class at the gym, hiring a personal trainer, or following a work out video in the comfort of your living room.
5. Avoid smoking, excessive alcohol, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and keep sodium under 1,500 mg daily.
These indulgences wreak havoc in the body by increasing inflammation, damaging tissue, and inhibiting heart function. In terms of sodium, 1,500 mg is a little over ½ teaspoon of salt. Keep a ¼ teaspoon scoop in your table salt so you avoid adding excessive amounts to your food and avoid processed foods that are typically high in sodium.
DR. KIRSTEN SINGLER, NMD
Dr. Singler comes from a family full of natural health professionals. She understands the value of complimentary, holistic care. Kirsten is a certified Naturopath and specializes in women’s health, acupuncture, nutrition, hormone balancing, thyroid disorders, digestive disorders, diabetes type II, weight loss, cardiovascular disease prevention and stress reduction.