February 15, 2023
February may be the shortest month, but we’re wholehearted about giving our insights about how to know if your heart is healthy. Earlier in American Heart Month, we talked about signs and tests for heart health and circulation, from plaque buildup in the arteries (called “atherosclerosis”) to our reciprocal relationships with our communities. And we discussed strategies for healthy cholesterol, reducing dietary inflammation, and exercising the connective capacity of our spiritual hearts. (Read the full article here!) Now, we’ll turn to some of the stressors that can impact the heart, and how you can stay resilient.
In addition to inflammation in the blood vessels, other forms of heart disease involve inflammation in the heart muscle itself. These diseases (myocarditis, endocarditis, pericarditis) are less common but tend to occur in younger people, while atherosclerosis typically develops with advancing age. Some signs may include:
If a problem in the heart muscle is suspected, certain tests can help figure out what’s going on:
Blood pressure is another essential aspect of heart health. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major contributor to heart disease, and can affect organs across the body including the kidneys, eyes, and brain. Like atherosclerosis, hypertension has few or no symptoms. Screening is key:
Psychological stress weighs on the heart, both physically and spiritually. Excess stress, or the inability to manage stress, is an important driver of hypertension, and can fuel the habits of disconnection we discussed earlier this month.
How to keep your heart healthy:
Practice stress reduction strategies. Take a few moments each day, especially around stressful events, to breathe deeply. Try box breathing to stimulate the vagus nerve and reduce the fight or flight response. For support with breathwork, try HeartMath with our health coach Stephanie to learn how to tune your breathing with your heart. For energetic support, work with our nurse practitioner and Reiki master Sarah to balance stress energy in the body. Recent research even shows Reiki can reduce blood pressure.3 Call TMC to schedule with Stephanie or Sarah today!
Get active. Exercise of any kind will benefit the heart. It’s particularly helpful to get your heart rate up, to train the heart to regulate itself. If you’re strapped for time, high intensity interval training (HIIT) can have tremendous benefit. Try this super-powered 4-minute workout from Dr. Zach Bush!
Take heart healthy supplements. Anti-inflammatory fish oil, like Daily Benefit’s Omega Benefit, can reduce heart inflammation and support healthy blood pressure. Mag Glycinate is a relaxing form of magnesium to support a healthy stress response. The heart-strengthening amino acids in PropeL (propionyl-L and acetyl-L-carnitine) can improve circulation, brain energy, and heart contractility.
So, let’s keep our hearts healthy this February and beyond, to promote longevity and keep us connected to each other. We’re taking that to heart!
About the Author:
Jonah Udall is a nutritionist, herbalist, and functional medicine practitioner in-training, earning his Masters of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine at University of Western States. Chronic health challenges taught him the importance of seeking root causes, celebrating the individual, and finding collaborative paths to vibrant health with nature’s medicines. Jonah is also a professional musician and movement artist and a certified Deep Listening instructor.