Looking After Your Heart – The Full Picture
Your heart is the most precious organ in your body. In fact, the Chinese say that all your other organs will sacrifice themselves to protect your heart. Modern medicine has advanced incredibly over the last decades, yet heart disease is still the leading cause of death in Australia, with one person dying from it every 27 minutes.
So it is obvious that if we want to live a long and healthy life, we need to look after our heart.
How Well Is Your Heart Performing?
The most common methods of checking how your heart is going are measuring your blood pressure and checking your cholesterol levels. But these only give part of the picture and are missing the main issues. There is now overwhelming evidence that the main indicators of Cardiovascular Disease are not high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, but instead are inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance. (Oxidative stress is the damage caused by toxins in your body, including the toxins produced naturally within your body.)
These problems can’t be properly evaluated through a normal blood test. A large, dark-screen microscope can be used to examine the amount of inflammation and oxidative stress of the red blood cells. Healthy blood cells will look plump, like grapes, whereas unhealthy ones look wrinkled up, like sultanas. These wrinkled cells not only indicate a problem with the blood cells, but also point to damage and accelerated aging of the blood vessels and other tissues in the body as well. (It’s like the inside of the body becomes older and more wrinkled.)
As well as inflammation and oxidative stress, the level of insulin resistance can also be checked with a dark-screen microscope by looking at the level of fats in the blood.
The standard risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, excess weight, lack of physical activity, low fruit and vegetable intake, alcohol, and smoking. 9 in 10 adult Australians have at least one of these risk factors, and 1 in 4 (25%) have three or more risk factors.
However, recent evidence points to over 400 risk factors including
- Stress, anxiety, or depression
- Lack of sleep
- Poor digestion
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Low energy
- Poor circulation
- Low vitamin D levels
- Low iron levels
- Low thyroid
- Excess weight
- Low testosterone
- Erectile dysfunction
- Chronic infections or coughs
It is becoming increasingly clear that, rather than just reply on medication to control high blood pressure, the best approach is to treat the causes of the problem as well as the symptoms. A healthy diet (including plenty of foods rich in anti-oxidants), the right high-quality nutritional supplements, and a healthy lifestyle to correct the factors behind the issue, will provide a far better long-term outcome for that person.*
Medications for high cholesterol levels (statins) have received a lot of bad publicity recently. The current methods of evaluating cholesterol levels include checking the
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), considered the “bad cholesterol”
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL), or the “good cholesterol”
- Triglycerides, another type of fat
However, there are other sub-groups of cholesterol and fats that come into the equation, and once again recent evidence indicates that this evaluation is too simplistic to get an accurate picture. As a result, normal blood tests can sometimes give a false good picture or a false bad picture of how the cholesterol and fats are impacting on the body. (So in some cases we may ask you to obtain a more detailed blood test for your cholesterol levels.)
Therefore any treatment should always include:
- Identifying all of the risk factors
- Checking the blood cells for inflammation or oxidative stress
- Improving any lifestyle factors
- Correcting any digestive weakness and nutritional deficiencies
- Reducing the impact on the body of any excess stress or anxiety
- Specific treatments for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
A good example of this is a client who came to us for treatment of her high blood pressure. We found that one of the factors behind her hypertension was the stress of having it. (Sometimes known as ‘White Coat Syndrome’- a person becomes anxious when having their blood pressure taken, often on a subconscious level, and this causes the reading to be too high.) Our Brisbane naturopath helped her to understand this and the other causes of her condition, which helped to reduce her anxiety.
A treatment plan was developed to reduce her other risk factors. After a course of treatment and with the right professional-strength nutrients, her overall health showed a marked improvement, and both her blood pressure and cholesterol levels are now within a healthy range. She is now able to manage her health and help prevent any further cardiovascular problems developing.
If you have any heart-related issues, or just want to look after your heart, please call the clinic on 3376 6911 to book in for a free Comprehensive Health Assessment. We can then let you know what is going on in your body, if there are any issues, what is causing any problems, and the best ways to improve them.
Have a long and healthy life!
*Please note: High blood pressure is a potentially dangerous condition, and so lowering your medication should only be done once we have reduced your pressure far enough, and with the approval of your doctor.