Heart to Heart: Functional Medicine & Cardiovascular Diseases
February is the month of love, so we are taking that cue and talking about cardiovascular health this month on the Brookview Wellness blog. Heart health can be a sensitive topic because it is often linked to lifestyle choices. Rest assured that having an open, judgment-free dialog with a doctor about your concerns can get you on track to not only improve your days but add years to your life. Read on to learn some cardiovascular basics and how functional medicine can help you restore and optimize your heart health.
What is cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease refers to a number of diseases that affect your heart and its blood vessels. These diseases are often associated with atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the arteries around your heart. The most common cardiovascular diseases (“CVD”) are:
- Coronary Heart Disease – Buildup and blockage in the arteries causing restricted oxygen and blood flow to a heart which can cause angina (pain) and result in a heart attack.
- Arrhythmia – An irregular heartbeat, either too fast or too slow, that disrupts the blood flow to a heart.
- Heart Structure Diseases and Cardiomyopathy – A class of CVD that refers to the abnormalities in the muscles, valves and blood vessels around the heart making it more difficult for the heart to function properly.
- Heart Failure – A weakening of the heart that leads to fluid build up and shortness of breath.
In addition to these cardiovascular diseases, there are also cardiometabolic diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver disease and insulin resistance that can greatly affect your heart health and quality of life.
What causes cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases?
These heart diseases can be caused and exacerbated by a number of factors including various medical conditions and lifestyle choices. The most common causes of cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases are:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being overweight or obese
- Insulin resistance
- Excessive alcohol consumption
While your genetics, sex and race can also play a role in your heart health, the most common causes are the result of long-term lifestyle choices that negatively impact your body and its organs.
None of us are perfect, and making healthy choices every day is a challenge for most humans. Your doctor has no expectation that you will change everything and walk the thin line of perfect health. Instead, Dr. Brooke will work with you to understand your concerns and educate you about your condition(s). You will work as a team to develop a comprehensive functional medicine program to help you reduce and manage your symptoms.
How can functional medicine improve my heart health?
The first step to any comprehensive and integrative medicinal treatment plan is knowledge. Dr. Brooke’s MSQ (“My Symptom Questionnaire”) can help her understand your symptoms and your overall health. From there, she can schedule you for lab work to pinpoint specific deficiencies and areas of concern. Once you have a clear picture of your health status, your functional medicine action plan can help you restore and optimize your health by addressing your diet, hormones, environmental elements, toxicities and activity level. Together we can:
- Assess inflammation in your body that can lead to CVD and take steps to reduce it and reverse some of the symptoms
- Improve your blood sugar levels
- Address hormone imbalances
- Explore possible environmental influences or toxic exposures
- Develop a consistent and appropriate fitness plan for your needs and abilities
- Discuss functional nutrition and how a diet can work for you in your plan to reduce blockages in your arteries
- Manage leaky gut and other chronic infections that may be present in your body
By working together, Brookview Wellness can help you to better understand your heart health, reverse some of the damage and relieve many of your symptoms. Schedule a discovery call with Dr. Brooke via our website and start your journey to better heart health today!