As cardiovascular diseases rank first as the cause of death globally, being aware of what the heart needs is a must for everyone.
As the body’s most vital organ, the heart serves as an engine room which pumps millions of gallons of blood throughout the body. This organ works continually, keeping the body freshly supplied with oxygen and nutrients, and is at the core of all circulatory processes.  But the essential and non-stop nature of its function makes it vulnerable to wear and tear and the effects of our lifestyles, cumulating into cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
Although a genetic disposition is a serious factor, a poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise, medication, and other ailments is the usual formula for CVD. It’s no joke to consider this as one’s mortal enemy. As you go along with life, it is only proper to be familiar with how you can take care of your heart, which will undeniably result into a happy life.
Common Factors that Contribute to Heart Disease
Most of the time, one might think that the heart receives the care that it needs. When the heart doesn’t get the attention that it should be given, simple problems might raise into serious ones. One should take note of the symptoms that the heart might experience, and the lifestyle that one should apply to manage those. The following will show the common factors that may lead to heart disease and some tips on how to properly manage them.
Generally, the body needs some cholesterol for it to work. So, not all cholesterol is bad, as some are made in the body and some can be eaten through food. There are two kinds of cholesterol, the good (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) and the bad (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) cholesterol. Having too low of the good and too much of the bad will eventually cause plaque in the arteries.
To ensure heart health, one should be at least tested annually to know your cholesterol levels, especially as one reaches 30. This is best checked through blood tests and to have a doctor look at your results. Being conscious your cholesterol levels will help you adjust your lifestyle choices and lower the risk of heart disease.
High Blood Pressure
Also known as hypertension, this condition manifests when the force of blood within the wall of your arteries is high. Hypertension not only damages the heart but also other blood vessels, your kidneys, and other organs. Stress and high-sodium, high-fat diet are the common culprits of hypertension. Fortunately, a quick blood pressure test can be done anywhere, even at home with a digital BP gauge.
Chronic hypertension is managed by regular medication, which is common enough for middle-aged people but is worryingly increasing also for those in their 30s. When BP levels spike, you can experience severe headaches, back pain, chest discomfort, nausea or vomiting, nervousness and anxiety, visual problems, or seizures, whereupon one should seek immediate medical attention.
In terms of keeping your heart healthy, it’s the little things that matter. Integrating the changes in the daily routines little by little would make a whole lot of difference, as well as keep it sustainable in the long run. This will be a lifelong effort to keep, but it ensures your heart would be in good shape even as you age. Consider the following:
1. Going for regular physical examinations at least once or twice a year just to make sure that you have no underlying conditions that would lead to heart disease, and to control the symptoms that you currently have.
2. Pay attention to the time you spend sitting: in your work, car, or at home. Stand or walk or do 30-minute exercise five days a week. Include activities that will get you moving around.
3. If you are on medication whether for blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes, take those medicines as directed. If you experience some side effects, do not stop taking them but instead, consult your doctor for other options.
4. Cut down on saturated fats and completely quit on trans fats (which are found in processed foods containing hydrogenated oil) to help the heart’s arteries.
5. If you have some pounds to lose, start by making small changes that you’re comfortable sticking with permanently in your diet and activities. Drastic changes are often quickly abandoned. Be patient with yourself and you’ll be encouraged once you feel better with your body.
6. Set aside some time to talk to people you’re comfortable with. Bonding with them is good for your emotional and heart health.
7. Encourage your family and friends to join you as you make these changes so that you’ll find mutual support in adapting to a better lifestyle.
Supplements to Improve Heart Health
Altering your lifestyle is the best method for lowering the risk of CVD. But for something as important as your heart, the body needs all the help in can get. Listed below are some of the research-backed supplements that will aid the heart.
1. CoQ10   – Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally-produced antioxidant in the body that helps cells produce energy. As it can be found in some food, it is not enough to increase the CoQ10 levels in the body as it age. Studies have shown that CoQ10 helps lessen the symptoms of congestive heart failure, as well as reduce blood pressure levels. While you should aim to eat fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, and trout, at least twice a week, supplements like Now Foods CoQ10 is a sure and pure source of this antioxidant.
2. Omega-3 (Fish Oil) – Aside from keeping the blood vessels healthy, Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower the blood pressure as well. Taking a supplement like Now Foods Ultra Omega 3-D will help the body if fish is not a frequent part of your diet, or if you’re concerned with heavy metals that may be in some kinds of fish.
3. Flax Seed - Due to the fibre content of flax seeds, it is helpful in lowering the cholesterol and keeping your arteries clog-free. Combine Now Foods Flax Oil with other sources of natural fiber to help your body flush out the bad cholesterol in your system.
4. Arginine (L-arginine) – This compound is found to be a potent CVD fighter as it helps relax blood vessels and improve blood circulation. With a proper consultation from your doctor, NOW Foods L-Arginine may help those with hypertension.
5. Biotin  - Biotin belongs to the B complex vitamins, one that supports metabolic functions. Biotin supplements like Now Foods Biotin can help lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes through lowering the levels of the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the levels of the good cholesterol (HDL). This reduces inflammation and plaque build-up in the arteries. It can also help regulate high blood sugar levels, which is a factor that can aggravate heart conditions.
6. Grape Seed Extract - In recent studies, the intake of grape seed extract was shown to help lower the blood pressure of its subjects, including those who have excess weight which can factor in poor heart functions. By addressing hypertension and excess weight, grape seed antioxidants, like that in red wine and Now Foods Grape Seed, Extra Strength, have a well-rounded support for overall cardiovascular conditions.
All in all, what you offer to your body will greatly affect its performance and its future. Keep in mind that we are responsible for taking care of our own wellbeing, and it’s better to take proactive measures against something that is so commonly fatal. Your journey to a healthier lifestyle should start sooner rather than later.