Matters of the Heart
by Allan TomsonIn the article in last month’s Natural Awakenings, D.C. edition, the heart and its function were discussed. Following up this month is an exploration what can possibly go wrong, and what one can do to heal and nutritionally support one’s heart.
The heart is a vital but delicate organ. The medical profession refers collectively to several different issues affecting the heart as coronary heart disease, yet there are a number of things that can possibly go wrong with one’s heart.
Heart attack or called a myocardial infarction, is caused by a lack of blood flow to cardiac muscle due to some kind of blockage in coronary circulation. Without blood, the muscle does not get a supply of oxygen and the muscle tissue dies. This once healthy muscle tissue is replaced by scar tissue and the heart is permanently weakened.
Artereriosclerosis is a hardening of the wall of a blood vessel. This is usually accompanied by atherosclerosis, which is the formation of a plaque in the vessel wall. This often results in high blood pressure. These plaques can dislodge or create a blood clot that travels via blood to lungs or brain, causing pulmonary embolism or stroke.
Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) also called a stroke which occurs when brain tissue is deprived of blood and oxygen for too long. This is caused by narrowed blood vessels in the brain due to atherosclerosis or blockage by a clot. CVA often results in partial paralysis. However, depending on the severity of blockage and length of time tissue has been deprived of oxygen, decreased function can sometimes be recovered.
What are the causes of coronary heart disease?There are five major risk factors: hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, smoking and obesity. These risk factors are often correlated with a lack of fruits and vegetables, and too much sugar and processed food in the standard American diet, as well as not enough daily exercise. According to a 2012 study reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, drinking just one diet soda per day increases the risk for all vascular events by 43 percent. Stress also plays a big role.
The body has three responses to the myriad insults placed on it by different stressors. These are: inflammation, oxidative stress (free radicals) and vascular immune dysfunction (our immune system attacks our cells).
How can we fight these stressors on our cardiovascular system?Sirtuins are a class of proteins that aid in the production of ATP (energy for our cells) in the mitochondria. They have protective effects on the cell and are showing promise in anti-aging as they have been shown to help preserve telomeres (caps at the end of our DNA), which in turn protect our chromosomes. Sirtuins also help in DNA repair and in quenching free radicals that damage cells. Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine has been found to be very supportive of sirtuin function. This beneficial compound can be consumed in higher doses as a supplement to our diet.
There are now a growing number of producers of highly purified form of Resveratrol, who are making it more digestible for improved absorption. To be highly effective, the raw materials used in these products need to be pharmaceutical-grade. Companies such as the Biotics Research Corporation have now created a line of supplements to address cardiovascular issues, specific to sirtuins, which are identifies with the addition of the tag “sirt” to the end of the product name.
If this article has stimulated your thinking on the heart and you seek more information, contact Dr. Tomson at 703-865-5690 or visit NeckBackAndBeyond.com. You can also learn more at their March 28 movie night to view a new film about the heart. See the calendar section of this magazine for more details.