Cardiovascular Health

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Cardiovascular Health - The Statistics

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) are the number 1 cause of death globally. More people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause. An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2016, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% are due to heart attack and stroke (1). 

There are an estimated 7 million people living with cardiovascular disease in the UK. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK, or around 160,000 deaths each year (2).

These are alarming statistics that are on the increase as each year passes. If you’re worried about your cardiovascular health, one of the most important things you can do today is to start making positive changes to your diet and lifestyle habits.

Understanding the Cardiovascular System

One of the main functions of the cardiovascular system is to support the transfer of blood to all major organs, muscles and tissues throughout the body. Our circulatory system has five types of blood vessels which are arteries, muscular arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules and veins. They all play different roles in supporting the transfer of blood but also helping to maintain tone and structure as well as regulating inflammation and immune activity.

Our blood contains red blood cells which help transport oxygen (98.5% of oxygen is carried in RBCs as Oxyhaemoglobin) and carbon dioxide, nutrients, hormones, heat and waste around the body. Ensuring that our blood is at the correct pH, temperature and adequately hydrated is an important part of good cardiovascular health.

As Naturopaths, we are aware that the body functions as a whole and it is important to recognise that cardiovascular health should not be assessed in isolation. Our nervous system, immune system and endocrine systems all play an important role in understanding our cardiovascular health. 

Signs and Symptoms of Poor Cardiovascular Health

If feel your cardiovascular system is under stress, there are a range of signs of symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight Gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing or Wheezing
  • Dizziness
  • Cold extremities (hands and feet)
  • Chest pain (with or without exertion)
  • Pain in the arm
  • High and Low Blood Pressure
  • Overwhelming sense of anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Swelling in the legs and feet

Here are a range of common pathologies that are linked directly with the cardiovascular system which are as follows:

  • Hypercholesterolaemia
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Angina Pectoris
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • DVT (Deep vein thrombosis
  • Varicose veins
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome
  • Oedema
  • Heart failure / attack
  • Arrhythmias
  • Endocarditis / Pericarditis (3)

If you are experiencing several of these symptoms but haven’t been diagnosed with a pathology it is recommended that you speak with your GP or a qualified practitioner as soon as possible to investigate further and prevent these symptoms manifesting into a more serious condition.

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

There are several important risk factors you need to consider when evaluating your own cardiovascular health too. 

The non-changeable risk factors are:

  • An individual’s age: the risk naturally increases as you get older.
  • Gender: before the age of 60 men are at greater risk than women.
  • Genetics: your risk may increase if close blood relatives experienced early heart disease.

The risk factors which are changeable and therefore in our control are as follows:

  • Raised levels of blood cholesterol
  • Raised triglycerides in the blood
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight/obesity
  • Being inactive
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Excessive stress (4)

Having more than one risk factor means the overall risk of getting some type of cardiovascular disease increases. If you can identify with any of these and you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it is important that you look to address these sooner rather than later as prevention is better than cure. On a positive note, changeable risk factors can easily be overridden through constructive nutritional and lifestyle changes.

Stress and Blood Pressure

A variety of hormones can influence your blood vessels, including stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, serotonin, testosterone and thyroid hormones. Stress hormones especially play an influential role in blood pressure regulation via sympathetic nervous system feedback (stress response).  

What this means is the higher the stress response typically the higher your blood pressure will be. Identifying and resolving issues that may be causing an individual to experience high levels of stress will play a part in improving your cardiovascular health. 

Good Nutrition and Lifestyle Habits for Cardiovascular Health

A typical Western-type diet (meat-based dietary pattern) is associated with higher levels of low-grade inflammation whilst a healthy diet does not (6). Dietary interventions allow for a better combination of multiple foods and nutrients to support the body. 

The current body of evidence shows that healthy dietary patterns to support cardiovascular health are linked to a high intake of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, low intake of salt, low refined sugar, low saturated fats and carbohydrates of a low glycaemic index (7). 

Addressing the risk factors mentioned above through lifestyle changes all contribute to the overall message the body is receiving and allowing it to heal. While you don’t need to change everything about your diet all at once, the more you take these nutrition recommendations to heart, the better off your heart will be.  

However, to make these changes we often need to understand why the changes are important, the effect they are having on the body and how they are relevant to the illness. Without this information, we are likely to fall back into bad habits.

Emotions and Your Heart

Ever heard the phrase ‘my heart is broken?’ The emotions you feel within your heart have an important role to play in your cardiovascular health. Feelings of loss, heartbreak, anguish can all have a direct impact not only on your heart health but the entire cardiovascular system. These emotions may be linked to traumatic memories or negative belief systems that are working against you.

There are several research papers that talk about cardiovascular arterial calcification due to the impact of these emotions which leads to stiffness of our blood vessels which then leads to other health complications (5).

Positive emotions on the other hand, like kindness, optimism and life satisfaction are increasingly considered to have protective roles for cardiovascular health with Oxytocin being one of the key hormones involved.

Techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Matrix Reimprinting are very powerful tools in helping work with these emotions or traumatic memories by clearing the energy behind them. Once the energy has been cleared health returns to the body.

Transform your Cardiovascular Health through a Holistic Approach

There are many factors involved when looking at cardiovascular health concerns and why the body may not be functioning optimally. These require investigating holistically and the individual needs to be assessed as a whole to truly determine the root cause(s).

Adjusting your nutritional intake and lifestyle habits, supporting mental well-being as well as assessing your spiritual wellbeing will play a crucial role in getting the cardiovascular system back into balance.

Everyone is individual and therefore there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to health. It is important to get a health plan tailored to your needs, symptoms and life circumstances.

At Higher Healing, being qualified in Naturopathy, Nutrition, Emotional Freedom Technique and Matrix Reimprinting we have a truly holistic offering to provide the right support to transform your health. We also are able to offer private functional testing to assess in detail imbalances within the body to give you a clear picture of your health.

Our wish is for you to reach a higher level of healing, so you are able to transform your health. It is possible and you can do it. Start by taking the first step, get in touch to see how Higher Healing can help.

Helping bring your body back into balance

Our holistic health consultations look to identify the root cause and address imbalances in your body systems to help bring them back into balance.

Book a free 20 minute health assessment with Higher Healing

Find out how we can help you achieve your health goals. Simply call us or leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.