Preventing Heart Disease, Despite Bad Genes

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Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 03/07/2014

Preventing Heart Disease, Despite Bad Genes

Many people walk into my office with high levels of Lp(a) or homocysteine—feeling like they're the victim of a bad set of genes. They often will tell me their father died of a heart attack at age 45 and wonder if the same thing will happen to them. Here's my answer when it comes to heart health: You are not a victim of your heredity—environment rules!

5 Methods for Preventing Heart Disease

  1. Take a lesson in "what not to do." Use what you know about your parents' lifestyle as an opportunity to improve your own lifestyle habits. One of the most powerful things you can do to keep your heart healthy is to follow the Pan Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) Diet. Find out all the details in step one of my Healthy Heart Program:The Healthiest Diet of All. It's also important to exercise for at least 30 minutes four to five times a week; walking is one of the best exercises. Check out my blog for updates on my online Walking Club.

    But physical habits are only half the battle. Your emotional well-being is also critical. Many people with heart disease have a hard-driving type-A personality. If that's you as well, make a concerted effort to incorporate relief valves into your life like yoga or meditation for preventing heart disease.

  2. Apply the "Rosetto Effect" to your life. Social connections have everything to do with heart health. In Nevada, which has a high divorce rate, heart disease has reached epidemic proportions. Meanwhile, folks in the small Pennsylvania town of Rosetto—where social connectedness is extremely strong—have the lowest incidences of heart disease in the country. It's so low, in fact, that it's earned the nickname the "Rosetto Effect."

    Having vital connections in your life is crucial in preventing heart disease, and ban be literally life-saving. For many people, their spouse is their most vital connection. But you don't have to be married to have that strong emotional tie. Many people find their connectedness in nature, with a pet, or with a spiritual community—so reach out and find it.

  3. Have your doctor screen you for inflammation. I firmly believe inflammation is the true "smoking gun" in heart disease. It's far more accurate than high cholesterol levels. Ask your doctor to request a blood test to measure C-reactive protein (CRP), your body's key inflammatory marker. While the overall numbers may vary according to the lab, look for a general reading below one. Anything above one may indicate silent inflammation. Also ask to have your Lp(a) level tested, which is a cholesterol particle that can cause inflammation and clogging of the blood vessels. High Lp(a) is usually hereditary, so if heart disease runs in your family this test is a must. If both your CRP and Lp(a) levels are high, I recommend further testing for ferritin, fibrinogen, and homocysteine in order to help prevent heart disease. All of these markers indicate the presence of inflammation in the body.

  4. Support your heart with the right nutritional supplements.I recommend a nutrient combination I call the "Awesome Foursome": CoQ10, 50-150 mg daily; magnesium, 400-800 mg daily; broad-spectrum carnitine 1-2 g daily in divided doses, and D-ribose 5 g twice daily.

  5. Get your sleep. There's a strong connection between sleep and cardiovascular health. Sleep disorders, or lack of sleep, cause oxidative stress in the body, and that increases the potential for heart disease. Sleep is a super antioxidant for the heart. In one study, researchers examined the sleep habits of 475,000 people. They found that a chronic lack of sleep—less than six hours a night—raised the risk of developing or dying from heart disease by 48 percent and stroke by 15 percent. So, if you have trouble sleeping, try a relaxing cup of chamomile tea before bed and turn in early, so you can get a solid night's sleep. Also be sure to exercise regularly; exercise is a great way to naturally tire your body and help prevent heart disease.

Here are more sleep tips.

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