Taking care of your heart through time
I will never forget the day that I diagnosed a 5-year-old child or when an 18-year-old boy arrived at casualty with a heart attack. Why would a swimmer in the Midmar mile die of drowning secondary to a heart attack or a Comrades athlete collapse after a 90km run? Are they not supposed to be healthy?
Coronary heart disease is seen as a disease for the older age group, above 65-year-old, although newer studies show the incidence in younger age groups is rising. It also affects men and women alike.
What risks are there in every age gap? How we need to address it as an approach, rather than individual risks.
Which supplementation can we suggest or prescribe that can support patients?
Every phase of life affects the heart differently
Let’s look at four age groups and how the heart can be affected at those ages:
Heart health of newborns up to 12 years
This is where most of the congenital and genetic heart diseases are identified and treated, either surgically or medically. This would include structural abnormalities, dysrhythmic abnormalities and even a strong familial hyperlipidaemia (cholesterol) might creep in this age group. Lifestyle seems to have changed significantly, children live a more sedentary lifestyle, play is less, poor nutrition is more and obesity and diabetes in this group has also started to increase.
Therefore, one can absolutely expect changes in oxygenation of the heart, inflammation of the heart, vascular injury as well as raise free radical formation causing oxidative stress. Important that kids need to stay active, eat a balanced diet for a growing child, and away with too much refined foods, sugar, and bad fats.
Heart health for adolescents to adults
Inflammatory, oxidation and oxygenation in the cardiovascular system may get affected. Often related to lifestyle, but genes may play a role, whether it is a predisposition or whether it is lifestyle triggering genetic expression.
Higher incidence of insulin resistance, poor lifestyle, bad diet, diabetes, and dyslipidaemia are risk factors. Significantly alcohol, illicit drugs (including steroids) and smoking are great contributors for higher risk for cardiac disease in this stage of life.
Take it with a pinch of salt
There is also an increase in the incidence of earlier diagnosis of primary hypertension under the age of 30 years, even after secondary causes has been excluded. Most will relate this to too much salt, but the answer is wrong.
Too much bad salt (fortified table salt) and too little good salt (Himalayan rock salt or ground sea salt). What is the difference? Table salt only contains sodium chloride and Iodine, but Himalayan salt contains multiple good salts and minerals.
Middle age hearth health
5 Triggers affecting heart health
- Epithelial dysfunction
- Loss of hormone protection
This is time the body’s tolerance of injury exceeds its protective ability, and true disease can set in. This is the expected time that cardiac events will start to happen. We have genetic weakening called telomere shortening which with each cycle of replication weakens and shortens even more. This results in ageing.
Elderly Cardiac Health
This age group includes all the cardiovascular disease states mentioned in other age groups, including the secondary effects of hypertension like heart failure and dysrhythmia. In this age group, the risk of heart muscle injury is the highest, not just due to the pathological processes but also due to continuous ageing.
All systems start becoming frail and at risk for injury and failure, especially if maintenance of hormonal, biochemical, vitamin, minerals and essential elements weren’t maintained.
What are the risk factors of heart disease?
10 cardiac risk factors
- Lack of exercise
- High blood pressure
- High LDL or low HDL cholesterol levels
- Family history of heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases
- Environmental toxicity.
What can I do to protect my heart?
Small changes can have a big impact on the health of your heart and that of your loved ones.
15 things that can help protect the heart
- Stop smoking
- Start exercising (at least 20 min of brisk walking three times a week.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Eat more healthily. Little Low GI carbohydrates, more non-carbohydrate vegetables, more good fats, and lean meat
- Control or check your blood pressure regularly.
- Control your glucose and often test to exclude diabetes.
- Check your cholesterol profile regularly.
- Check your inflammation regularly.
- Try to avoid toxins like colourants, flavourings, and preservatives. Detox your liver regularly.
- Control your weight.
- Go for regular check-ups.
- Do not default on medication and supplementation.
- Check Vitamin D levels.
- Check Magnesium levels.
- Check heavy metal toxicity especially cadmium and lead.
Which supplements can protect the heart?
There is an extensive list of things that can be used for different people. Below is a list of supplements and what they can do to help protect the heart:
10 supplements that can help protect the heart
Can lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol
- Omega-3 EPA/DHA
Can decrease excess triglycerides
- Vitamin K2
Can prevent arterial calcification and endothelial dysfunction
- Vitamin D3
Can be cardioprotective.
- Hawthorn extract
Can help with hypertension
Can assist with ischaemic heart disease or suboptimal heart oxygenation
Can assist with heart failure
Can lower LDL (bad cholesterol), elevate HDL (good cholesterol), and treat excess triglycerides
Can lower heart inflammation and prevent clot formation
- Magnesium glycinate
Can assist with the treatment of heartbeat abnormalities, heart cramps (angina), high cholesterol, and hypertension.