Most people don’t think twice about their heart health, unless they’ve been directly affected by it. But the reality is, nine out of ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Despite that concerning statistic, nearly 80% of early stage heart disease can be counteracted by healthy choices in an effort to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
What should I be on the lookout for?
Two of the most common causes of heart disease are also the most silent – high cholesterol and hypertension. These conditions can only be detected through a blood test, and can lead to dangerous consequences if they get out of hand. The good news is, high cholesterol and hypertension are highly preventable and can be improved by making some simple lifestyle adjustments.
What’s the deal with cholesterol?
You’ve probably heard of cholesterol and its negative effects in excess, but cholesterol is vital in healthy levels for bodily functions.
Some of its duties include:
- Providing structure to cell walls
- Creating the digestive bile acids found in the intestine
- Helping with vitamin D production
- Helping with hormone production
Cholesterol plays an essential role in all of these processes, but at higher levels can be problematic. You won’t experience any visible symptoms if you have high cholesterol, but when left untreated it can lead to coronary heart disease or heart attack.
What’s the cause of high cholesterol?
When cholesterol builds up, it can lead to the creation of plaque in your arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. Cholesterol buildup is usually caused by excess consumption of saturated fat and trans fats, which are found in fried and highly processed foods. High cholesterol can also be a genetic condition, so it’s a good idea to get a blood test if you have family members who suffer from this condition.
Hypertension? What’s that?
Simply put, hypertension is another term for high blood pressure. Blood pressure itself is the effort your blood exerts against the walls of your blood vessels, and this is dependent on the blood vessels’ resistance and how hard the heart is working.
How does hypertension damage your heart?
In the long term, hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis, which (as you may remember from earlier) is when plaque builds up on the walls of the blood vessels, causing them to narrow. Hypertension becomes worse as this happens, since the heart must work harder to pump blood through your circulatory system. Eventually, this leads to heart failure, heart attacks, kidney failure, aneurysm, stroke and different types of heart disease.
What is considered a healthy blood pressure reading?
Your blood pressure is taken via the brachial artery in your arm using a blood pressure monitor with an inflatable cuff. Two values are recorded in a blood pressure reading: systolic pressure, and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the measurement of pressure in the artery when the heart contracts, and diastolic pressure is the measurement of pressure in the artery when the heart relaxes between beats. A normal reading is considered less than 130/85, and optimal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80.
So, what should I do if I have high cholesterol and hypertension?
If you suffer from high cholesterol and hypertension, fret not! It’s within your control to lower these levels by making a few lifestyle changes.
Here are a couple of ways to get started:
- Regular exercise
- Reducing stress when possible
- Cutting back on or cutting out alcohol consumption and smoking
- Following a healthy diet full of whole foods (plenty of fruits and vegetables)
- Reducing salt intake (under 5g per day to reduce hypertension)
- Consuming healthy fats
- Omega-3: oily fish such as anchovies, sardines or salmon, chia seeds and flaxseeds
- Omega-6: almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds
- Omega-9: various vegetable and seed oils
Need a little extra support?
When it’s not possible to get all the nutrients you need from your diet, or simply want to be on the safe side because of genetics or lifestyle factors, you can always take supplements to even things out.
Red Yeast Rice
Red Yeast Rice has long been used to naturally lower cholesterol in Traditional Modern Medicine, as it is considered to be a natural source of statins. Statins work to inhibit the activity of a key enzyme in the biological pathway that creates cholesterol. Although there are pharmaceutical statin medication options, their active ingredients use the same biological pathway that creates important nutrients such as CoQ10 and vitamin D, leaving you open to developing nutrient deficiencies over time.
Speaking of CoQ10, this nutrient is the primary antioxidant in our cells that is responsible for fueling our mitochondria. It shields cells from harmful bacteria and viruses, while also preventing oxidative damage. CoQ10 production decreases as we age, but we still require large amounts of CoQ10 to keep our heart healthy. Inno-Q-Nol contains active ubiquinol, guaranteeing stability for highest potency.
You may know fish oil as a reliable source of omega-3’s, but Krill Oil delivers a higher absorption rate and raises omega-3 levels faster than the omega-3’s from fish oil. Wild krill is also at the very bottom of the food chain, which means it contains the lowest levels of toxins, offering contaminant-free omega-3 fats.
This blog post is brought to you courtesy of Innovite, bringing you health products that matter. Pioneers since 1983.