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The heart is an amazing organ. Its four chambers beat with a normal heart rate of 50 to 99 times per minute or almost 100,000 times a day, sending oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to every cell in the body. Each minute the heart pumps five to six quarts of blood equaling nearly 2,000 gallons per day. With each beat of the heart fresh blood carries oxygen and food to cells and removes waste including carbon dioxide.
The heart is at the center of the cardiovascular system. Maintaining good heart health is key to good overall health. Unfortunately, heart disease, in one of several forms, affects a significant portion of the population. As many as 65 million Americans suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death resulting in nearly 2,000 deaths each day or one death every 44 seconds. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), a disease where the heart is unable to function at full capacity, affects nearly 5 million Americans and is the leading cause of hospitalizations for those over 65 years of age. Coronary Artery Disease, or atherosclerosis, is more commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries. It occurs when deposits of fat and plaque build up narrowing artery walls. Coronary heart disease is the number one killer of Americans affecting nearly 13 million people.
Since heart disease is so wide spread it is important to know the risk factors for heart disease and work to minimize or eliminate them.
1. Smoking - Smoking damages the lungs and increases the load on the heart. If you smoke, stopping can provide almost immediate benefits.
2. High cholesterol levels - Know your levels and work to bring them into acceptable ranges. Cholesterol causes build up on the artery walls. Natural supplements like Red Yeast Rice or Policosanol may help you lower your cholesterol.
3. High blood pressure - Untreated high blood pressure increases stress on the heart and vascular system.
4. Inactivity - Exercise is important for heart health.
5. Diet - Strive for a diet low in fat and cholesterol.
6. Stress/Anger - learn ways to lower your stress level and to deal with anger.
7. Diabetes - Diabetics have an increased risk for heart disease. Carefully control and monitor blood sugar levels.
In addition to a healthy diet, consider adding a natural supplement to your routine to contribute to heart health. Coenzyme Q10, or Co Q10, is neither classified as a vitamin or mineral but is being recognized as an increasingly important part of a heart healthy regimen. In clinical studies Co Q10 has shown considerable efficacy in treatment of congestive heart failure. Co Q10 is believed to re-energize the heart cells. Hawthorne is another natural substance shown to have potentially significant impact on coronary artery disease. Hawthorne works by dilating coronary arteries particularly in the extremities. Omega 3 essential fatty acids from fish or plant sources like flax seed oil have a marked impact on reducing heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems. Omega 3 fatty acids are so effective the American Heart Association officially endorses their inclusion in the diet. Antioxidants like Vitamins E, C, and A can also strengthen the heart health helping you reduce your risk for heart attack.
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