Archive for Heart Health

Heart Disease Prevention and Chiropractic Treatment

Heart Disease – the term could spark apprehension in even the most health-conscious and fit person. Not surprising as cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Many different condition fall under the “umbrella” of heart disease, so we’d like to clarify a bit.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease prevention
Heart Disease, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), is actually a group of diseases involving the heart or related blood vessels. These conditions include angina, heart attack (myocardial infarction), stroke, arterial fibrillation, congenital heart disease, and many others.

The causes for heart disorders are, of course, all the “usual suspects”, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, limited or no exercise, obesity, high cholesterol, poor diet, and excessive alcohol intake. High blood pressure accounts for approximately 13% of deaths related to heart disease, while smoking, lack of exercise, excessive weight and diabetes account for 5% to 9% of heart-related deaths.

Other factors that determine a person’s risk of heart disease are age, gender, and family history. Nonetheless, it is estimated that 90% of cardiovascular disease is preventable.

Naturally, regular exercise and a good, healthy diet top the list of things you can do to keep your heart healthy. But there are many other lifestyle choices and therapies that can help as well. We’ll address those in a few paragraphs, but first let’s learn how you can discover it you’re at risk.

Determining your risk for heart disease

the causes of heart disease
Most tests for heart disease are non-invasive or require only a small sample of blood. Generally speaking and depending upon what type of condition your doctor believes you might have, a simple physical exam and information about your personal and family history will be all that is required. However, as we age, other tests may become necessary.

Aside from chest x-rays and electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG), other such tests available are…

Holter Monitoring – A Holter monitor is a portable device that is worn for 24 to 72 hours. It is designed to detect heart rhythm irregularities that are not found during a normal EKG.

Echocardiogram – This noninvasive exam is basically an ultrasound of your chest which provides detailed images of your heart’s structure and function.

Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan – A CT scan is commonly used to check for heart problems. When you have a cardiac CT scan, an X-ray tube inside a donut-shaped machine will rotate all around your body and collect images of your heart and chest.

Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – For this type of test, you lie on a table inside a long tube-like machine that produces a magnetic field which, in turn, produces images that helps your doctor evaluate the condition of your heart.

A variety of blood tests can also be used to detect the risk of heart disease. They include the following…

A cholesterol test, which measures the fats (lipids) in your blood.

A CRP (C-reactive protein) test, which indicates a sign of inflammation somewhere in the body as a result of injury or infection. A CRP test, along with other blood test results and risk factors can help paint a picture of your overall heart health.

A fibrinogen test, which measures the protein in your body that helps blood clot. However, too much fibrinogen can increase your risk for heart disease because it can lead to clots forming in your arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Although cardiovascular diseases are prevalent, there are steps you can take to prevent and reduce your risk. Along with improving your eating habits, getting regular exercise, and stop smoking and drinking, you can also benefit from chiropractic treatment.

The benefits of chiropractic treatment in preventing or reducing heart disease

1. Chiropractic treatment can lower blood pressure – When the 1st vertebra (the Atlas) is properly aligned, many people show a marked improvement in blood pressure.

2. Improves the heart’s nerve function– this is called the autonomic tone, and it impacts almost every part of the body including the heart, gastrointestinal tract, lung kidneys, bladder and sex organs.

3. Decreases chest pain – If the vertebrae in the upper neck, the middle (thoracic) part of the spine, or the ribs are misaligned, it may affect the nerves causing the chest wall to tighten. Dr. Martin Gallagher who is both a D.C. and an M.D. states it this way, “The chest muscles, ribs, heart, lungs, and stomach are controlled directly and indirectly by spinal nerves. Misalignments can interfere with these nerves and cause chest pain similar to cardiovascular angina. We call this spinal angina. Sometimes it may even produce tachycardia and other arrhythmias. Few people know about spinal angina and it is rarely diagnosed by medical doctors.” Chiropractic adjustments are a very effective treatment for this condition.

4. Improves lung function – Evidence indication that chiropractic care can positively impact patients with asthma and emphysema. As reduced lung function is linked to heart failure. improved breathing reducing stress on the cardiovascular system.

Dietary supplements to improve cardiovascular health

Although pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe that statins are the only way to reduce cholesterol levels, this simply is not the case. As we’ve discussed in other articles, there are many foods and supplements that can aid in cholesterol reduction without the use of statins. Today we’d like to introduce you to two more favorites: Standard Process’ Cyruta Plus and Cardio – C

Cyruta Plus – This powerful whole food complex can help cholesterol transport and supports healthy healthy peripheral circulation. Some people liken it to a rotor rooter for the arteries..

Cardio-C – This nutritional supplement was formulated based upon chemical and nutritional findings of Linus Pauling. It’s a fine-powder dietary supplement that you take 1-3 times per day

Linus Pauling, an eminent American chemist, biochemist, and the world’s only two-time unshared Nobel Prize laureate believed that too little vitamin C in the body can elevate cholesterol levels, including the Lp(a) variant which causes narrowing of the blood vessels. Upon learning that Lp(a) binds to strands of lysine protruding from weak and damaged blood vessels, Pauling invented a high-lysine / high-vitamin C unified therapy
Cardio-C is a tasty drink mix, and has no fillers. It’s easy to dissolve and is very easy to take.

We stock these two supplements along with many other professional grade supplements in our clinic.

Image of man meditating for stress
Lastly we need to consider our hectic lifestyles and the ways they may contribute to heart disease. Rarely do we find time to rest and relax, but such downtime is essential for our nervous systems. Take time to play by indulging in a favorite hobby, such as knitting, crochet, coloring in an adult coloring book. Recently Dr. Mixon began playing the ukulele! If music from the Hawaiian islands isn’t your style, guitar might be.

Meditation has also been shown to lower stress levels. You don’t have to take a class, you don’t have to be a pro. The key is consistency and to take time to still the mind. Don’t let your harried lifestyle push aside much needed relaxation.

If you’d like to schedule a chiropractic appointment with our clinic you can contact us through our website, or call us at at 972.840.2520. We are an integrated medical clinic and offer the services of two chiropractors a nurse practitioner, massage therapy and exercise rehab. We can help you bring your life back into balance!

Sleep Deprivation and Heart Health – A Serious Link

Our busy lifestyles often leave us little time for rest, which has resulted in a major change in sleep patterns. Now people sleep an hour to two hours less than they did just 50 years ago. While some people might consider this great for productivity, it’s not a good situation for our health. Recent research indicates there’s a link between those shorter hours of sleep and an increased potential to develop heart disease.

Man with sleep deprivation
In the United States, heart disease is reported to be the leading cause of death and disability, with strokes being the number 4 cause. A major threat factor in both cases is high blood pressure.

The lack of sleep—or prolonged sleep—isn’t necessarily the cause of heart disease, but it definitely affects the heart disease risk factors in terms of arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure.

These are the kinds of statistics that research has revealed about sleep deprivation:

  • A 48% increase in the risk of getting or dying from coronary heart disease (CHD);
  • A 15% risk increase in developing or dying from stroke;
  • Interestingly, there is also a 38% risk increase of CHD in people who sleep too much, such as nine or more hours a night!

Just like the rest of your body, your heart needs rest. It never stops beating, so resting that reduces the heart rate and blood pressure is essential to its health.

Sleep regulates your health!

While you sleep, your body regulates insulin levels, hormone levels,including stress hormones, and blood pressure. When you don’t get enough sleep it throws all of those things out of sync.

It’s those hormone levels, in particular, which affect your appetite and energy. When those decrease because you’re tired, you have a greater chance for weight gain, the development of insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of physiological and biochemical abnormalities associated with initiating cardiovascular disease. This is because it triggers inflammation, and studies have shown that inflammation causes high blood pressure. This explains why the risk of stroke or heart attack shoots up when you don’t get enough sleep.

If you already have a heart problem, even short-term sleep deficit is shown to be harmful. The effect of daylight saving time, which strips away that extra hour of additional sleep in spring, is known to increase the risk for heart attacks by a surprising 4%!

The depth of your sleep is also important. Along with shorter sleep, shallow sleep can result in hypertension. Without long periods of deep rest, the important chemicals needed to keep the heart rate and blood pressure lowered, aren’t activated. So, the longer you sleep deeply, the better rested you are and the better your heart feels.

Sleep apnea

Not everyone suffers from sleep apnea, but the manner in which the condition affects heart health is one of the reasons the “sleep and hearth health” link has been identified.

Sleep apnea causes snoring and gasping for breath while a person sleeps. That condition results in the heart rate increasing, a rise in blood pressure, and frequently disrupted sleep. All of the bodily functions that normally slow down at night are forced to continue operating at a higher rate of activity. Over time, the higher blood pressure carries over into the day. Some researchers believe at least one-third of identified cases of high blood pressure among adults are due to sleep apnea. As mentioned above, high blood pressure during the day increases the chance for cardiovascular issues.

Sleep deprivation catches up with you

No one intentionally decides they just aren’t going to get enough sleep. Even night owls require down time to rejuvenate, and people who thrive on activity and long hours are forced to sleep whether they want to or not. But in many cases it’s simply difficult to fall asleep, or to stay asleep when you finally manage to drift off. That can be due to external factors, such as work, children, emergencies, a middle-of-the-night phone call, a restless partner or pet, an uncomfortable bed, or to internal factors such as worry, anxiety, bad dreams, depression, excitement, or sundry other mental intrusions.

A lack of sleep causes “sleep debt,” which isn’t unlike being overdrawn at your bank. It catches up with your body, and your body won’t let you go without repaying the debt. People don’t adapt to getting less sleep. Eventually all of your functions are impaired and you have to react.

Here are a few tips to help with sleep issues:

  • Get a little exercise during the day
  • Keep regular bedtime hours
  • Refrain from late night snacks; especially caffeine and alcohol
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet
  • Limit your use electronics such as a tablet or a cell phone

If you need extra help, a cup of soothing herbal tea, accompanied by a a small dose (1 to 3 mg.) of melatonin may help you fall asleep.

There is an Irish proverb that says “A good laugh and good sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” An excellent perspective to embrace in order to keep your heart healthy!

Want to Protect Your Heart? Eat Red Meat Like Grandpa Used To

By now, if you follow the latest diet trends you might be a little confused. What’s the best way to eat if you want to be healthy? Should you follow a low fat, high carb diet or just the opposite? Should you eat like a caveman or live on protein shakes?

If you’ve always thought that Grandpa and Grandma ate what they wanted to and seemed to do just fine — you may be right.

image of a grilled steak
Over the decades, many medical experts have led us to think that red meat, whole milk, eggs and bacon are enemies to good health and a healthy heart. But are these deeply ingrained beliefs really accurate?

It doesn’t seem so. A meta analysis (a review of research about previous research) of almost 400 studies indicate that saturated fat rich foods like beef and full fat dairy won’t increase your risk for heart disease..(1)

Another study, executed by the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University between 2007 and early 2009, showed that a daily serving (between 4 and 5.5 ounces of lean beef) actually reduced cholesterol levels when eaten alongside a healthy diet consisting of vegetables, fruit and whole grains.

Grass-fed beef delivers superior benefits

To ensure you’re getting the highest quality beef, look for grass fed and grass finished beef. The fat in cattle raised under these conditions delivers three to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a powerful fatty acid, than the CLA in grain feed cattle.

CLA is also found in raw, grass-fed dairy.

The proven benefits of conjugated linoleic acid include:

  • Improvements in long-term weight management
  • lowered inflammation within the body
  • improvements in insulin resistance
  • reduction of tumor size in patients who have cancer
  • lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels

In addition to CLA, grass feed beef has higher levels of certain vitamins including vitamin E, thiamin and riboflavin and is higher in omega 3 fatty acids.

As for whole fat dairy, a frothy glass of ice cold whole milk could also benefit your heart. That’s because the calcium in the milk helps to lower blood pressure and the vitamin K2, found in whole milk has artery protecting benefits. Organic whole milk is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And if you eat raw cheese, you’ll tap into even more of the benefits of conjugated linoleic acid.

So back to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s diet. (For you twenty and thirty year olds, you may need to think back one more generation.) If you’re like me, you may remember a relative who lived to a ripe old age. In my case, it was my grandmother, who lived to be one month shy of 98. She was very healthy, never fussed over her cholesterol levels and ate what she wanted to.

So what was the difference with this generation of healthy 70, 80 and 90 year olds? The answer seems pretty simple.

Your Nana and PawPaw, and my grandmother, ate lots of home cooked food, including meats, vegetables and whole grains. My grandmother started off each morning with yogurt and fresh fruit.

What they didn’t do was eat a shopping carts worth of highly processed foods like potato chips and crackers each week. Neither did they supplement their daily meals with McDonalds and Taco Bell. And if you were to monitor their sugar consumption, you’d probably find that they drank less soda pop and ate fewer desserts.

Vegetables were a stable of their diet. And exercise was a natural part of their daily routines, whether it took the form of gardening, raking leaves or walking to the store.

We know that it’s hard to let go of long held beliefs, so If you’re still afraid that a steak might not be good for you, then follow the American Heart Association recommendations — 6 ounces of lean meat a day. Lean cuts include chuck, loin, sirloin or round. In the context of healthy eating, there’s nothing wrong with adding red meat and whole fat dairy in moderation to your diet.

So, if you’re craving a succulent grilled steak, go fire up the grill. And if you’re accompanying that steak with a baked potato you might try adding some grated raw milk cheddar cheese to the top.

Go ahead, live a little! You deserve it.