Many of my patients come in and state that they have been told they have cardiovascular disease but don’t really know what that means. Is it the high blood pressure or cholesterol, or the coronary incident that occurred in the past. So, what is cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels which includes:
- Coronary Heart Disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart
- Peripheral Arterial Disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the arms and legs
- Cerebrovascular Disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain
- Others such as rheumatic heart disease and congenital heart disease
Most of you would know these as atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, transient ischemic attack, hypertension, hypotension, angina, arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure. And then there are the many conditions associated with cardiovascular disease such as obesity, thyroid disease, endocrine disorders, kidney disease, and diabetes.
Many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease are behavioural. That means you have the choice to change them! These include:
- Eating diets high in animal fats and dairy
- High glycemic foods
- Food sensitivities causing inflammation in the body
- Consuming foods high in salt and sugar
- Physical Inactivity:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Toxins such as heavy metals
- Air and water quality
- Viruses and bacteria
- First hand and second hand smoke
So, you have some form of cardiovascular disease…what are YOU going to do about it?
Everybody’s treatment plan will be different depending on their current health status, severity of the disease state and commitment to change. Here are some general guidelines to get you started on your journey.
- Stop Smoking – I know, easier said than done. Nowadays we have so many different treatment options at our disposal in order to kick the habit that there is no excuse. Try hypnosis, acupuncture, vitamins, nicotine patch or gum
- Get Moving – I know, again, easier said than done. By just exercising for 30 minutes every day you will greatly decrease your risk factors. Start by adding activity in for 5 minutes intervals throughout your day.
- Eat a healthy diet based on whole foods including good sources of protein, high amounts of vegetables and fruits. Avoid processed foods, and foods with high amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fats and drink plenty of water. Finding your specific food sensitivities will also help decrease inflammation in your body.
- Lower stress levels by engaging in activities such as yoga and Tai-Chi. Also, try and get close to 8 hours of sleep every night.
- There are a number of herbs, and neutraceuticals that can be beneficial as part of your treatment plan. These are dependent on your specific situation as well as your medication regime at the time.
Naturopathic medicine has definitive advantages in complementing your cardiovascular treatment regime. Every person is different and so should your naturopathic program. So, don’t wait until it’s too late, get going on your own personalized plan today.
Dr. Danielle O’Connor, Natural Care Clinic