New insights into natural remedies for heart health
In the United States, coronary artery disease continues to be the leading cause of death. This condition, identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the most common form of heart disease, is characterized by the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Unlike plaque on teeth, arterial plaque consists of cholesterol deposits that inflame and calcify over time. Dr. Alexander Postalian, an interventional cardiologist, notes the stealthy nature of this disease, which often remains undiagnosed until a severe health event like a stroke or heart attack.
Diet plays a crucial role in the development of arterial plaque. Dr. Briana Costello highlights the detrimental effects of foods high in trans and saturated fats, such as cakes, fried foods, red meats, and whole-fat dairy products. In contrast, a plant-based diet is recommended for maintaining arterial health. Dr. Yu-Ming Ni emphasizes the importance of this dietary approach along with reducing simple carbohydrates. Complete plaque removal may not be possible, but its progression can be slowed or stopped.
Recent studies from China have shown the potential of manganese in reducing cholesterol and arterial plaque in mice, suggesting a new avenue in cardiovascular therapy. However, these findings are still in the early stages and their applicability to human health remains uncertain. Beyond diet, cardiologists stress the importance of holistic lifestyle changes including managing stress, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking to maintain cardiovascular health.
Moderate wine consumption has been linked to improved heart health, particularly in increasing good cholesterol levels. However, cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Adrian Baranchuk cautions against considering alcohol as a preventive measure for heart disease due to its varying effects on individuals. In terms of supplements, while some like fish oil and garlic may help manage risk factors, no supplements have been conclusively proven to prevent heart disease.
The role of aspirin in heart health has been revised by the American Heart Association. No longer recommended for blanket use, aspirin’s prescription now requires medical consultation due to its associated bleeding risks. Regular physical activity is also emphasized as a key factor in preventing heart disease. Even short bursts of exercise can significantly impact heart health, countering the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Sleep’s impact on cardiovascular health is also significant. While proper sleep aids in blood pressure and blood sugar control, both insufficient and excessive sleep can have detrimental effects on heart health. Addressing heart disease thus requires a comprehensive lifestyle approach, encompassing balanced diet, physical activity, moderation in alcohol consumption, and adequate sleep. This holistic strategy is essential for maintaining heart health and preventing coronary artery disease.