Heart Smart – 6 Things You Need to Know About Your Cardiovascular Health
The importance of heart health is hardly a secret. We all know the rules. Eat whole foods, exercise regularly, control your stress level, and don’t abuse substances. All of these things are commonly mentioned in conversations about cardiovascular health. Every one of them is of vital importance to your wellness. But what about the rest of our habits and exposures? Are you doing everything you can to maintain a healthy heart? Let’s get heart smart!
Caffeine and Your Heart Health
Like any stimulant, caffeine can be your friend or foe. A bit of caffeine can boost your energy and improve your mood, but too much caffeine can have questionable side effects on your heart. While it may not directly cause heart disease, too much caffeine is certainly not doing your heart any favors.
Consuming more than four cups of caffeinated beverages each day can lead to anxiety, heart palpitations, higher blood pressure, and sleep disruptions. All of these side effects make your heart’s job much harder.
If caffeine is your favorite, look into mushroom blends of coffee or talk to your doctor about a magnesium supplement. Magnesium helps regulate the effects of caffeine in your body and has a calming effect on the central nervous system. This helpful mineral can counteract the jitters and anxiety that can be caused by your favorite caffeinated drinks. Additionally, magnesium can help regulate your heart rhythm, which can reduce heart palpitations which can be a side effect of caffeine consumption.
What is C-Reactive Protein?
C-reactive protein (CRP) is produced by the liver. It is released into your bloodstream in response to inflammation occurring in your body. It is commonly used as a biomarker of bodily inflammation and a risk factor for various health conditions, including heart disease and stroke. Elevated levels of CRP can indicate the presence of an underlying inflammatory condition or infection.
All Functional Medicine patients at Brookview Wellness have their c-reactive protein level checked in a common blood test. Elevated CRP levels are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular events. This blood test is vital to understanding your heart health.
Your CRP levels can also be used to monitor the progression of certain inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be used to determine the effectiveness of any treatment you are undergoing. Monitoring this protein level is something that should be on your wellness radar.
Broken Heart Syndrome
That terrible feeling you get in your chest when you grieve a loved one or endure extreme trauma has a name. Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is a condition in which the heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t perform as well as it should. This condition is usually triggered by intense emotional or physical stress, such as the loss of a loved one, a serious illness, or a traumatic event.
The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are similar to a heart attack, including chest pain and shortness of breath. However, the underlying cause of these symptoms is very different from acute heart distress caused by clogged arteries. Unlike a heart attack, broken heart syndrome is caused by a sudden surge of stress hormones that temporarily disrupt the normal functioning of your heart.
The condition typically does not cause any long-term damage, but it can feel very intense when it is happening. If you are under this kind of stress, it is always best to talk to your doctor, but know that your discomfort could quite literally just be a temporarily “broken’ heart.
How is Your CoQ10?
CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, is an enzyme found in every cell in your body. It plays a crucial role in producing energy within your cells’ mitochondria, the well-known “powerhouse” of the cells responsible for converting the food you eat into energy. Additionally, CoQ10 can help ward off free radicals in your bloodstream. Needless to say, CoQ10 is important, but why does it matter for your heart health?
Here’s why – CoQ10 levels decline with age and are also reduced by certain medications commonly used to lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure. Ironically, CoQ10 deficiency has been associated with several health conditions, including heart disease. This makes it a total catch-22 if you are taking medication for heart disease that can reduce your vital CoQ10 levels.
This is another great conversation to have with your doctor if you are concerned that your medications may be counterproductive to your cardiovascular health.
Sleep and Your Heart Health
How well you sleep has a significant impact on heart health. Both intentional sleep deprivation and sleep disorders like insomnia are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Here are some ways in which a lack of sleep can affect your heart:
- Blood Pressure: Poor sleep quality and deprivation are linked to elevated blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
- Inflammation: Remember our new friend c-reactive protein from above? Lack of sleep can increase inflammation throughout your body, including the heart and blood vessels. Chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for heart disease.
- Stress: Your slack sleep schedule can increase stress, which can put strain on the old ticker and your blood vessels.
- Arrhythmias: Sleep disorders, such as apnea, increase the risk of irregular heartbeats, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
It’s time to prioritize those ZzZzZzZzZs. Most healthcare professionals recommended 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to promote optimal heart health and overall wellness.
Vitamin D and Your Heart Health
If there is one common thread among the many people who come through the doors of any doctor’s office, it is Vitamin D deficiency. This is mostly due to limited sun exposure, poor diet, aging, or a variety of medical conditions including celiac disease.
Whatever the reason, having an inadequate vitamin D level in your body is not optimal for your heart health. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular conditions in the following ways:
- Blood Pressure: Low vitamin D levels are associated with elevated blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
- Inflammation: Vitamin D plays a role in regulating your immune system, and a deficiency has been linked to increased inflammation.
- Insulin Resistance: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, a condition that increases the risk of heart disease.
- Arterial Health: Low vitamin D levels have been associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty deposits build up in the arteries surrounding your heart.
- Calcium Metabolism: Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy bones, but it also plays a role in regulating calcium levels in the blood, which is important for maintaining a healthy heart rhythm.
Schedule a Discovery Call
We hope you feel heart smart(er) after reading this article. We always strive to provide you with interesting and engaging information that can help you #RESTORE + #OPTIMIZE your health. If you have more questions than answers about how you feel, schedule a Discovery Call with Dr. Brooke. Together you can get on the path to finding the root cause of your symptoms.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or for use in diagnosis or treatment.