American Heart Month
This February marks the fourth annual American Heart Month, established by Barrack Obama in 2011. In his official proclamation, President Obama explains the need for such a focus. Indeed, heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death among American adults (one out of every four!). As one in three American adults are living with a cardiovascular disease, a month-long, nationwide focus brings attention to this issue and encourages us to be aware of it and to make efforts to be more healthy.
The term ‘heart disease’ includes several different heart conditions. The most common in the US is coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease), which occurs when plaque buildup in the arteries is so great, the heart isn’t supplied enough blood. This condition can cause heart attack, angina, heart failure, stroke and arrhythmia.
Understanding that heart disease is a serious threat to your health is a good thing. But what factors put our cardiovascular health at risk? The following can increase the likelihood of developing heart disease:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Poor diet
- Family history
With the exception of being predisposed due to family history, each major risk factor can be addressed now using simple, proactive steps that could very well extend (or save!) your life. Everyday habits such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting sodium consumption, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and moderating alcohol intake can reduce these risks.
In the quest for a healthy heart, it’s exciting to note the number of natural herbs that can promote a strong cardiovascular system. The following four herbs have shown very promising in studies examining their medicinal properties:
Ginseng – Ginseng is essentially an immune system booster. Studies have provided promising correlations between ginseng and reduced blood pressure as well as reduced heart disease risk. Slight precaution is advised as ginseng increases blood pressure in some people.
Gingko (Gingko Biloba) – Gingko is more famous for its memory improving effects, but it is a powerful natural medicine for cerebrovascular disease. Ginkgo leaf extracts have been proven by studies to dilate vessels, thus leading to increased blood flow. It is also known to prevent and reduce congealing of blood platelets. Improved blood circulation to all major organs help reduce the risk of strokes.
Garlic (Allium sativum) – There is a reason that most cultures include garlic as an ingredient in their culinary preparations: the Egyptians are known to have found more than 195 medical uses for the herb! The Chinese too, value the herb to such an extent that one of their everyday teas is Garlic-based. Furthermore, several studies have shown that a single clove of garlic a day (which roughly translates into 500 – 1000 mg in powder form) is good for healthy cholesterol levels. Similar studies have also proven garlic to be a blood pressure normalizer. Regular consumption of this herb treats Atherosclerosis as it softens arteries by breaking the cholesterol and fat that cling to their inner walls, improving their flexibility.
Green Tea – Green tea is becoming increasingly known for its benefits to the heart. Cells that line the blood vessels in and around the heart are delicate, and consumption of green tea briskly improves their health, condition and performance. The 2008 issue of European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation reported that researchers have found green tea to improve blood vessel function within 30 minutes of consumption! Green tea has a high concentration of the antioxidant/flavonoid called ECGC (EpiGalloCatechinGallate).
Health Concerns has a number of formulas that promote cardiovascular health. Click the links below for more information on each product.