February is heart month and while, you can look after your cardiovascular health year round, it is a great time to build some new heart health habits. Modifying your diet to reduce unhealthy fats, sugars and overconsumption is great place to start. After that, adding regular exercise to your routine is the best way to improve your heart health.
While there are a wide variety of prescription drugs that can help reduce cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure, you can give your heart some extra love through the use of complementary therapies. As always please consult your Peoples pharmacist or physician before starting a new supplement or therapy to make sure its right for you.
CoEnzyme Q10 - As you age the amount of Coenzyme Q10 your body produces diminishes. If you are taking a statin medication to lower cholesterol, your body is actively losing CoQ10. Supplementing with CoQ10 is an effective way to replenish your body's store of this important nutrient that has been linked to heart health, prevention of periodontal disease and reducing blood pressure. While further research on CoQ10 is needed it is considered a safe supplement.
Fish Oils - Fish oils are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids - a natural anti-inflammatory that have been shown to have a positive impact on heart health. There has been some controversy over the benefits of fish oils but the most recent Canadian Journal of Cardiology still recommends fish oil supplementation. While eating fish is the best source supplements are still effective. Fish oil supplements are considered safe when taken at recommended dosages.
81mg Aspirin - While low dose aspirin therapy isn’t for everyone, if you have a history of heart disease or diabetes it can help reduce your risk of heart attack. Aspirin is an anti-coagulant - it prevents blood clotting. When taken regularly it can reduce the chance of blood clots that cause heart attacks. Aspirin therapy can cause stomach upset and should be avoided if you have a bleeding disorder.#
Garlic - A safe and flavourful addition to most meals garlic also has shown the ability to help reduce high blood pressure and thin blood. Garlic has also been shown to have a moderate ability to prevent the hardening of arteries or atherosclerosis. Garlic is generally safe when taken orally and at recommended dosages. Patients on blood thinning medications should take caution as garlic can amplify the effect of these medications increasing the risk of bleeding.
Plant Sterols - Also known as phytosterols, plant sterols come from plant based foods. Research has shown that plant sterols can help lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol by blocking its absorption. Triglyceride levels and HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol is not affected by plant sterols. Plant sterols are considered a safe supplement when taken at recommended dosages.
For more information on uses, dosages and to avoid possible drug interactions be sure to speak to your Heart pharmacist.