You’re All Heart – Cardiovascular Health in Women
Don’t Ignore the Statistics
When it comes to cardiovascular health, women need a wake up call! Heart disease is often considered a man’s diagnosis. However, according the National Institute for Health, heart disease is actually the No. 1 killer of both men and women in America today.
A staggering 1 in 4 women die from heart disease, whereas 1 in 30 women die from breast cancer.
The U.S. Department of Health reports that nearly two-thirds of American women who die suddenly of a heart attack had no prior symptoms. Yes, that should be shocking! Yet, this is a preventable disease.
Why Are These Numbers So High?
Likely it is a combination of stress, the Standard American Diet (also known as S.A.D.), lack of exercise, smoking, and other environmental toxins and lifestyle choices that have become a common way of life for many people.
What Can You Do to Stay Healthy and Heart Happy?
Think preventative! Or, if you have already been diagnosed with having heart disease or being at risk of heart disease, then consider making efforts to bring your body back into balance. This means taking the time to get to know your body, and then doing what you need to do to thrive!
Managing Heart Health – Where to Start?
Keeping an eye on your cholesterol is key. It’s all about the ratio. We have all heard that high cholesterol is bad. Many in the healthcare field, however, believe that “high” is relative, and what is equally important as total cholesterol is the ratio of HDL (“good” cholesterol) to LDL (“bad” cholesterol). This is not to say that you should throw your total cholesterol number out the window, but rather, educate yourself on the importance of an appropriate total cholesterol, as well as what the ratios of HDL and LDL mean.
Mary Enig, PhD and author of the book Know Your Fats, has spent her life’s work studying the importance of fats and their role in good health. She states that “blood cholesterol levels between 200 and 240 mg/dl are normal … and in fact they have been shown to be associated with longevity.” Total cholesterol is determined by combining HDL and LDL, along with other markers like triglycerides. To obtain a truly accurate evaluation, we must examine the ratios within those numbers.
What Do Healthy Cholesterol Levels Look Like?
- HDL:LDL ratio of 4 or less. This ratio is determined by dividing HDL into LDL. For example, if a person’s HDL is 60 and their LDL is 150, their ratio would be 2.5. Because their ratio is less than 4, many would consider this to be a healthy.
- HDL (good) cholesterol: at least 40
- LDL (bad) cholesterol: below 100 (slightly more may be alright if HDL is high)
- Triglycerides: below 150
- Total cholesterol: below 240. Remember, it is important to make sure HDL is high and that LDL is low.
The Inflammation Factor
There are many factors that play into high cholesterol, one of the key factors being inflammation within the body. Inflammation can occur for a number of reasons, some of the more common being:
- Oxidative stress within the body. This means you have more free radicals (inflammation promoting atoms which damage cells) in your body than you do antioxidants to quench them.
- Poor diet high in trans or damaged fats. Examples of damaged fats include fried foods, highly processed fats like partially hydrogenated oils, and fats that have been oxidized by heat or light.
- Inadequate omega-3 fats.
- Exposure to inflammatory toxins. These may include everyday substances from products like cleaning supplies, pesticides from conventionally grown foods, lotions and shampoo products.
- Elevated homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced in the body during the process of methionine metabolism. It has been shown that elevated homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, likely because homocysteine has an inflammatory effect on the arteries. This promotes the oxidation of LDL, making it more likely for plaque to be laid down in the arteries. The metabolization of homocysteine requires abundant B Vitamins, which help to quickly break down and move homocysteine through and out of the body. Supplementing with B Vitamins is an excellent way to support healthy homocysteine levels.
- Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a blood test which measures a special type of protein in the blood that is present during times of inflammation. It is still possible to have inflammation in the body, even with a low CRP test result. A high CRP test result, however, is a good indication that there is either acute or chronic inflammation in the body that needs to be addressed.
Maintaining a healthy body weight really does matter.
- Work on establishing and maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index, or BMI. BMI is a basic calculation of weight and height, and is a relatively reliable indicator of body fat levels. You can calculate your BMI HERE. There is a direct correlation between excess body weight and increased risk for cardiovascular disease, so if you suspect you may be at risk, do something about it!
- Become familiar with your waist to hip ratio. Women should have a waist to hip ratio of about 0.80, and men about 1.0. If excess fat is stored in the waist (belly) area, there is a higher associated risk of cardiovascular disease. You can evaluate your waist to hip HERE.
Are You at Risk?
The most common risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Eating a nutrient poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Smoking cigarettes
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic Syndrome. Risks for metabolic syndrome include:
– High fasting glucose levels
– High (poor ratio) cholesterol
– High blood pressure
– Being overweight, especially in the abdomen
Supplements that Support Heart Health*
Providing your body with the extra support it needs can go a long way in keeping your heart happy.
Cardiovascular Health Support
Vitalzym Cardio is a unique hybrid enzyme formula designed specifically to support cardiovascular health by supplying enzymes that may cleanse the blood of excess fibrin and arterial plaque.* It contains nattokinase, an enzyme that research suggests breaks down build up within arteries and thus “thins” blood to allow for improved circulation.* It also lowers C-Reactive Protein levels, which affects the vascular inflammation response.*
Using a simple herbal spring cleanse like PuraCell Systemic Cleansing System can help support the natural release of stored toxins that collect over time.* The formula contains magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate which are important nutrients that contribute to heart health.* Its enzyme blend includes serrapaptase, protease, bromelain, papain and nattokinase which, when taken in between meals, may assist in cleansing the liver, blood vessels, and kidneys of excess fibrin.*
Life Essence Multiple provides essential vitamins and minerals along with antioxidants, amino acids, and countless other co-nutrients necessary to keep your body strong and your heart whistling a happy tune. It contains a built-in memory module, with 120 mg of standardized ginkgo biloba, which doubles as a heart and circulation tonic. Better circulation helps distribute nutrients to cells throughout the body.*
LipiCept™ is a blend of proven ingredients, including the Sytrinol® patented bioflavonoid and tocotrienol Blend, B5 sourced Pantesin®, plant sterol esters, milk thistle, and policosanol – a formulated combination designed to support healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range.†
Cholesterol Balance Support
Cholesterol D-fense™ contains adaptogenic ingredients such as red yeast rice, cordyceps, reishi, and green tea – which have been shown to improve overall cardiovascular health by improving ratios between HDL and LDL to restore homeostasis.*
Cholesterol Health is a raw whole food blend with probiotics and enzyme plus therapeutic dosages of flush-free niacin, fermented CoQ10, red yeast rice, and chromium which may support cholesterol health.*
Estrogens play a complex role in non-reproductive tissues including the brain and cardiovascular system. The risk of stroke and heart disease is increased dramatically when a person is estrogen dominant. Water logging of the cells and an increase in inter cellular sodium, which predispose a person to high blood pressure or hypertension, frequently occur with estrogen dominance. Balance is key.
DIM promotes beneficial estrogen metabolism and healthy hormonal balance in an an easily absorbable cruciferous vegetable compound shown to be highly effective for helping to manage estrogen dominance and related conditions.
Fuel Your Body with Antioxidants
Coenzyme Q10 with Bioperine is a powerful antioxidant which has been shown to safeguard LDL cholesterol from oxidation. CoQ10 is a critical component in the primary energy cycle, and is most abundant in the heart.* Its positive effect on cardiac performance during exercise includes improved blood flow, oxygen utilization, and exercise tolerance.* In addition, CoQ10 may play a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.* Bioperine (black pepper fruit extract) may assist in the absorption of CoQ10 for even greater benefits.
Antioxidants like Astaxanthin have been shown to reduce free radicals and the oxidative load in the body by protecting the cells against oxidation.* It has a powerful scavenging ability for lipid and free radicals, and effectively breaks peroxide chain reactions.* Due to its molecular structure, Astaxanthin is one of the few antioxidants that can move throughout the entire body and provide protection to all of our cells.* Astaxanthin has the unique property of protecting the entire cell – both the water soluble part as well as the fat soluble part.*
Eat for Health
A healthy diet goes a long way to longevity. Choose an array of organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free whole foods.
Portion size is important if you are trying not to overeat. Eat at regular intervals throughout the day to keep blood sugar regulated and dietary stress at a minimum.
Try to include:
- Up to 7 servings of delicious garden vegetables, especially leafy greens.
- Two servings of juicy fresh fruits.
- Meats, poultry and fish without fillers and chemicals. A serving size is about the size of the palm of your hand and the thickness of a deck of cards.
- Nuts and seeds, healthy oils, avocados and olives in moderation. Be sure you are getting adequate fiber (at least 30 g/day), as fiber has been shown to lower LDL by helping to escort it out of the body.
Keep That Body Moving
Moderate exercise 3-4 times per week for at least 30 minutes is essential to support circulation, vitality, and heart health. Consider exploring the outdoors, getting to the gym, or even just sweating it out at home. Swim, run, bike, dance or do whatever keeps your heart pumping. Add in some weight training a couple of days a week and treat your muscles to some stretching or yoga and you’ll have a recipe for a healthy metabolism and a happy, strong heart.
We sometimes forget that our heart is working day in and day out to keep us moving. It is easy for women to overlook cardiovascular health, especially with so much emphasis being put on so many other health issues today. Recent statistics on women and cardiovascular health, however, are showing that our hearts are in need some extra love! So consider taking the time to give your heart the support it deserves, it will surely appreciate the extra TLC.
Stress is a major concern when it comes to hypertension and cardiovascular health. Keep those stress hormones in check and that blood pressure down by taking time to relax, meditate, walk, take a bath, or do whatever it is you do that relaxes you. Even if it is only for 5-10 minutes per day, it makes a difference. Supporting adrenal health can also help your body to manage stress better.
Adrenal Health contains therapeutic quantities of a synergistic blend of B Vitamins, plus Botanical Extracts and Sensoril® Ashwagandha to help improve energy, promote mental clarity, and inhibit fatigue and tension*. More specifically, some studies have shown that Ashwagandha potentially balances cholesterol levels and provide some of the antioxidant benefits of Vitamin E.*
Superior herbs such as those in Schisandra Adrenal Complex™ are designed to enhance and promote general health and well-being, and are especially suited for those depleted due to overwork, excess stress, and inadequate rest. The herbs act as adaptogens, which help to support the body during times of stress or change and have been used in Chinese medicine for generations. Schisandra has been shown to specifically increase resistance to heart stress after stress tests.*
Minimize Invisible Stress Factors
Electromagnetic stress from things like cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices also contribute to our “total load,” or the total amount of stress that our body is required to deal with. Keeping EMFs at bay while using your favorite electric devices can also make a difference in your heart health.
Aulterra’s Enhance can offer an important protective defense against powerful environmental toxins, including certain forms of radiation.* It contains a proprietary blend of natural rock powders minerals that research indicates can neutralize the effects of electromagnetic field radiation and other elements on human DNA.