3 Ways to Boost Your Heart Health3 Ways To Boost Your Heart Health

By Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in adults in the United States for the past 80 years. About 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the U.S. and more than 800,000 people die from cardiovascular disease every year—that’s one in every three deaths. Because heart disease usually has no outward signs, the condition is often discovered too late, with devastating consequences. Over 60 percent of heart disease deaths occur suddenly as a first symptom of the disease.

The most common type of heart disease is clogged arteries caused by plaque buildup. Plaque formation brings about hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. A combination of cholesterol deposits and calcium crystals, arterial plaque narrows arteries over time, impairing blood flow, and can lead to an aneurysm, when blood vessel bulges rupture and cause internal bleeding.

Plaque deposits usually require inflammation. One indicator of these deposits is a routine blood test called C-reactive protein, which measures the level of inflammation and can alert your doctor to your potential risk. Another simple, life-saving test is the carotid ultrasound, which detects plaque obstruc-tions in the arteries that supply blood to the brain. If you have plaque in your carotid arteries, you likely may have it in your coronary arteries too. Factors that put people at higher risk for arterial plaque include diabetes, insulin resistance, high LDL cholesterol, stress, obesity, inflammation and high blood pressure.

Here are three simple way to improve your heart health:

Maintain Optimum Blood Pressure with Meditation

The coronary arteries feed your heart muscle with blood. The blood vessels in your neck and head keep your brain supplied with essential nutrients and get rid of toxins and waste. It’s the plumbing in your body, not unlike that in your house, that can be the source of problems, and when the pressure in the pipes increases because of plaque deposits, clogging or faulty pressure regulation, a pipe may leak or even burst, leading to unimaginable damage. Check your blood pressure regularly. Systolic, the higher number, is the pressure in your arteries when your heart pumps, and diastolic, the lower number, is the pressure when your heart relaxes. Try to maintain resting systolic readings below 130 and diastolic readings below 85. The best ways to keep your blood pressure numbers low? Maintain weight wellness and eat a low-sodium diet. Studies show regular meditation can help reduce blood pressure and maintain healthy numbers. Try my Happy Heart, Healthy Heart Meditation CD, which is designed to support cardiovascular health. Check out our meditation and Chi Gong classes. And when you’re at one of our offices, ask to have your blood pressure taken.

Bust Plaque with Plant-Based Eating

Plaque consists mainly of cholesterol deposits and calcium crystals. The bad type of cholesterol, LDL or low-density lipoprotein, especially the little particles, come from saturated fats found in all animal products, including meats and dairy foods. Some plant oils like coconut, palm and cocoa butter, can raise LDL cholesterol. Studies published in 2014 led by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., showed a substantial percent-age of subjects following a plant-based diet, with no animal products or saturated fats, who experienced a complete reversal of their heart disease. Chinese medicine has long advocated this way of eating for general health and well-being. The landmark China Study, indeed confirmed the benefits of a plant-based diet in lowering risks for heart disease, stroke and cancer. A plant-based diet consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes and seeds, without refined carbohydrates or sugar. We suggest trying it for three months and then deciding if you want to continue, based on your cholesterol and other test results. Then modify your eating plan if you wish. Ask your practitioner for our Heart Health Menu Plan and explore our new, convenient, plant-based, organic meal delivery service.

Oxygenate for a Stronger Heart

The heart muscle, like all muscles, requires an abundance of oxygen to function optimally. Oxygen is needed to maintain ATP production—the energy currency of the muscle cells. Lacking ATP, muscles simply give out and are unable to repair and function well. High-performance athletes have known this for years and focus on increasing oxygenation before competition. Ideally, the closer you get to 100 percent oxygen saturation in your blood, the better your body functions. Exercise is obviously the easiest way to increase oxygen in your body and surprisingly, belly laughter can also increase oxygenation by inducing the release of nitric oxide, which dilates your blood vessels, allowing more blood to reach your heart. It’s no surprise that 5,000 years ago Chinese medicine practitioners declared, "Joy and laughter strengthen the heart."

Several herbs and nutrients have been found to increase oxygenation and blood circulation. These include Co-Q10, an antioxidant observed to help muscle repair; L-arginine, an amino acid found to increase nitric oxide that dilates blood vessels; and red rice yeast, discovered to naturally lower cholesterol. Always check with your doctor before starting to take any herbs or supplements. Next time you’re in the office, ask your practitioner to check your blood oxygen level with an oximeter.

Here’s to Your Happy Heart, Healthy Heart!


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