How is your heart beating these days? Do you get winded easily? If you could rate your heart health on a scale of 1-10, what would yours be?
Second to cancer, heart disease is the leading cause of death in Canada. In 2013 it accounted for 20 per cent of all known deaths. Heart disease involves plaque build up and hardening of your coronary arteries. How can we do our best to reduce the natural progression and prevent heart disease as we age?
There are three main risk factors for developing heart disease: hypertension, dyslipidemia (elevated cholesterol) and diabetes. All three of these factors are influenced by lifestyle factors and genetics.
The tool I like to use with my patients is calculating their Framingham Risk Score. This is a tool to measure your 10-year risk of having a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke). What is useful in this exercise is seeing the factors that contribute most to your risk. This includes your age, your HDL cholesterol, your total cholesterol, your systolic blood pressure, if you are a smoker and if you have diabetes. It is helpful to see what you can influence in this list, particularly your HDL cholesterol.
The first impression most patients have about cholesterol is that “it’s bad” and that it should be as low as possible. But what many people do not know is that there are many different types of cholesterol and not all are “bad”. LDL cholesterol is our “bad” cholesterol and ideally you want this number to be low. HDL cholesterol is our “good” cholesterol. You want this cholesterol to be as high as possible.
How can we increase our HDL cholesterol you might ask? Some tips include regular exercise (ideally 20 min/day), 2 tbsp raw olive oil, raw unsalted nuts (ideally almonds and walnuts) and omega-3 fatty acids (fish). Hypertension and LDL cholesterol are most affected by inactivity and a diet high in animal products, processed foods and alcohol.
High triglycerides, low HDL, and abdominal obesity are among the diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome, so recognizing these risk factors for cardiovascular health is essential.
The ratio of triglycerides to HDL has emerged as a key indicator of risk for cardiovascular disease. Research indicates it’s an independent predictor for coronary heart disease (CHD), a finding that has been replicated and deepened: this ratio predicts CVD and CHD mortality. The TG:HDL ratio is a predictor of major adverse cardiac events in patients on statins, including those with lower LDL, suggesting that LDL is not the best indicator. This is another important factor we look at predicting your risk and also in monitoring your improvement.
As a Naturopathic Doctor I can work with you and your Medical Doctor to optimize your heart health. Our recommendations can be done in conjunction with medications you may be on. With a proper nutrition plan, stress reduction, and nutraceuticals and amino acids, we can get you on an individualized plan. If you would like your risk calculated and an individualized approach to improving your heart health, please book an initial consultation. Or call, 705.789.8998.
Let your heart beat a little better this year, we are here to help!
Let’s engage in heart healthy lifestyles together–with your friends, family, coworkers, and others in your community.
Dr. Brandy Strelec has always had a passion for health, which led her to focus on assisting patients in their achievement of optimal health by assessing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspect of health and addressing the underlying core of their health concerns. She develops individualized treatment plans and educates patients about their health while encouraging them to take an active role in their own health care.
As a licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Strelec utilizes her strong background in Nutrition, Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, Lifestyle counseling, Botanical Medicine, Homeopathy and Physical Medicine to assist her patients in attaining their treatment goals. She has a wealth of experience in dealing with hormone imbalances and digestive disorders. She has special interests in women’s health, chronic stress and fatigue-related issues, digestive health issues, heart disease, diabetes, pain management, fertility, and pediatrics. She has also designed specific programs dealing with weight management, detoxification, healthy aging and stress reduction. Brandy also brings her experience as a Bowen practitioner to add options for additional, individualized care for pain management.