Combat Inflammation & Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
By Laurel Sterling, MA, RDN, CDN, National Nutritionist & Educator for Carlson Labs
Heart disease is described as a range of conditions that affect the heart. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) or heart disease, consists of coronary artery disease (CAD), congestive heart-failure (CHF), arrhythmias, and angina. It also includes vascular diseases like cerebrovascular disease (stroke), peripheral vascular disease, and deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Heart disease alone is the leading cause of death in the US, per the CDC. CVD claims about as many lives each year as cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, and diabetes mellitus combined. But, the good news is many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices.
Beyond genetics, here are some of the main causes of heart disease. They include issues such as: atherosclerosis (fatty deposits of cholesterol), calcium and other cellular waste in the lining of arteries, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, diet, and stress. Also, low levels of key nutrients should be considered, such as omega 3s, vitamin D, B-complex, vitamin E, and CoQ10. In my opinion, doctors should be going beyond their standard tests and consider C-reactive protein and homocysteine levels, fibrinogen, serum vitamin D (25 OHD), cortisol, and fatty acid levels in red blood cells. The CRP and homocysteine levels measure inflammation happening in the body, where fibrinogen is a clotting indicator. Homocysteine, a strong oxidant, is thought to cause vascular disease because of its effect on blood vessel walls.
To delve deeper into the topic of heart disease we have to discuss inflammation, which appears to be a root cause of CVD and many other health problems, including arthritis, autoimmune disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, allergies, asthma, and more.
Inflammation is the body's natural response to an infection or trauma that is invoked by the immune system. An acute response to injury or infection is not a big concern. But chronic, systemic inflammation decreases our body's ability to optimally respond and function. It results in several dangerous changes in the body—from joint destruction to arterial plaque building. Some of the causes of inflammation include: SAD (standard American diet), excess sugar intake, stress and high cortisol levels, free radicals from smoking and toxins, hidden infections or allergies, and other sources.
When addressing the inflammatory component of heart disease, one should consider incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into their supplement regimen. The American Heart Association reports that the benefits of omega-3 include: a decreased risk of sudden death and arrhythmia, reduced thrombosis (blood clot), decreased triglyceride levels, lowered blood pressure, and slowed resting heart rate.
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston studied 11 years' worth of data on the dietary habits and health of 20,551 male physicians. It was found that those who ate seafood containing omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week had a 52% lower risk of sudden cardiac death compared to those who ate fish less than once a month. Another landmark study, the Gissi Prevenzione trial, examined 11,000 myocardial infarction (heart attack) survivors. One group took a placebo and the other group was given 1 gram of omega-3 EFAs (EPA/DHA) daily. The group that took the omega-3 supplement had a 20% decrease in total deaths, a 30% decrease in cardiovascular deaths, and a 45% decrease in sudden deaths over a 4-year period. This led The American Heart Association to recommend 1-4 grams of EPA and DHA daily. Some great options to get your daily amount of fish oil include Carlson's Very Finest Fish Oil at 1 tsp/day or if you prefer a softgel you can take 1-2 Elite Omega-3 Gems daily. Taking EPA and DHA can reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death by anywhere from 45% to 90%!
To further curb the effects of inflammation, antioxidants can provide long-term benefits for cardiovascular health. Much of the effect that antioxidants have on blood pressure may be attributed to their effect on endothelial cells. These are the cells that line the interior of blood vessels. If these vessels are malfunctioning, the coronary arteries surrounding the heart can narrow or become blocked causing plaque to build up and possibly resulting in a heart attack.
Antioxidants, like vitamin E, are important to protect these cells. Vitamin E consists of a family of eight compounds; four are tocopherols, alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta, and four are tocotrienols, alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta. This fat-soluble vitamin is uniquely suited to intercept free radicals and protect the LDL fats (low density lipoprotein) from oxidation.
In the largest trial to date, "The Women's' Health Study: A Randomized Controlled Trial", vitamin E reduced cardiovascular deaths in women age 45 and over by 49%. In a 2007 study, vitamin E was found to reduce the risk of blood clots up to 49%. Carlson has an excellent antioxidant formula called ACES, which contains vitamins A, C, E, calcium, and selenium. Also, E Gems Elite is a great choice for a complete E vitamin— containing all 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols.
CoQ10 is another powerful antioxidant. It is made by every cell in the body and is used to make ATP, which is our body's basic unit of cellular energy. It is essential for energy production in the heart and throughout the body. As an antioxidant, it also prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Statin drugs that are typically used to lower cholesterol cut the body's production of cholesterol and CoQ10. Also, as we age we start to produce less of it. CoQ10 depletion is associated with worse outcomes in patients with CHF. Carlson's CoQ10 is available in a variety of strengths from 30mg to 300mg as well as a CoQ10 combined with fish oil called Fish Oil Q, which contains 100mg of CoQ10.
B-vitamins are also essential for energy production. B6, B12, and folic acid are necessary for maintaining healthy homocysteine levels. Also, pantethine, which is a derivative of B5, has been found to lower total cholesterol, LDL, TG, and raise HDL. Carlson's B Compleet contains all of these B vitamins.
In addition, magnesium is involved in over 325 processes in the body, including energy production, blood vessel and smooth muscle relaxation, blood pressure reduction, and more. Carlson has a Chelated Magnesium that has 200mg in 1 tablet. They also have a great Fish Oil Multi that contains most of the nutrients mentioned in this article. Take 1/day with a meal and you'll also get in a dose of omega-3s with it!
There are numerous articles in various medical journals on how inflammation is a source of many diseases and is a prime culprit in most cardiovascular conditions. Through a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes along with specific supplements like omega-3s, vitamins B & E, CoQ10, magnesium, and a comprehensive multivitamin, we can reduce internal inflammation and the damage caused by it—keeping our hearts healthy and strong!
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.