In the last issue I told you about some things you can do to reduce your risk of getting heart disease. But what if you already have heart disease? Millions of Americans living with heart disease aren’t sure what they can do to improve their condition, to enhance their quality of life, and to prevent a deadly event like a heart attack.
Last time I told you how controlling your glycation and inflammation levels can help to prevent heart disease. Doing these things can also help improve your condition even if you already have heart disease. Controlling these things can help you reduce your risks of complications and extend your life. Those aren’t small benefits.
But there is even more you can do.
Heart Disease is a Challenge, but You’re Up To It
When you have heart disease, you live with a number of very serious risks.
Heart attack tops the list of risks. When you have heart disease your arteries become damaged. They are less able to adapt to the demands of your body. Two things happen. Damaged areas along the inside of the arteries form into plaques. These plaques can rupture releasing clots into your bloodstream. Because your arteries aren’t flexible like they should be, the clot can become lodged, cutting off blood flow to your heart. Without adequate blood supply, the tissues of your heart become damaged. This weakens your heart and can even kill you.
More than a million people experience a heart attack every year. More than a third of those will die from the attack.
Reducing your risk of heart attack is important—and I’ll tell you more about how you can do that in a moment—but you also need to know how to recognize a heart attack, so that you can respond quickly. Not every heart attack happens like those you see in the movies. If you think that a heart attack means crushing pain in your chest and arm, that’s not usually how it happens.
If you’re a man, a heart attack usually begins with pain or discomfort in the chest. The pain might become severe or it might just feel like pressure. It often spreads to the right arm and to the back and neck. You will also probably experience shortness of breath and dizziness.
Symptoms for a woman might be more vague. You might experience less pain and more discomfort. Dizziness, shortness of breath and nausea are common in women. Women also often experience a general feeling that something is wrong.
If you have heart disease and begin to experience mild symptoms that resemble these, it’s important to get checked out as soon as possible. The earlier a heart attack is treated, the greater your chances of survival and the easier your recovery will be afterward.
A second risk of living with heart disease is stroke. A stroke is similar to a heart attack, but it cuts off blood flow to your brain instead of your heart. The symptoms usually include a severe headache, pain or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking and confusion.
As with a heart attack, early treatment is critical to surviving and recovering from a stroke.
How You Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
Controlling your glycation and inflammation as well as working to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol is a great place to start when it comes to reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke. After you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, though, you’ll want to take a couple of extra steps to protect yourself.
Your peak oxygen level—how much oxygen your body can take in at a time—is an important indicator of heart attack risk. In one study researchers tracked the mortality rates of 3213 patients with heart disease. They found that patients with the best peak oxygen levels were less likely to die of a heart attack. The also showed that even a mild increase in peak oxygen levels could reduce heart attack risks by up to 71%.
Haphazardly starting an exercise program when you have heart disease is dangerous, so discuss ways to safely build your peak oxygen levels with your doctor.
When you have heart disease, your heart has to work harder to accomplish its job. All that work takes energy. The source of energy in every one of your cells is your mitochondria. The mitochondria are structures within the cells that convert nutrients into energy. Research shows that declining function in the mitochondria may contribute to heart disease. When you have heart disease, energy production within your cells is more important than ever.
You can help your mitochondria to function better by taking supplements of the amino acids l-carnitine and l-arginine. L-carnitine acts a transporter for fuel—it brings nutrients into your mitochondria where they can be converted to energy. Within your cells, l-arginine gets converted to nitric oxide, which helps your arteries to relax… and relaxed arteries can prevent a heart attack or stroke.
Living with heart disease doesn’t mean that you are doomed to suffer a heart attack stroke. You can take these steps to greatly reduce your risks.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News