All too often, heart disease goes unseen. But while symptoms are widely unrecognized, heart disease kills more people than any other disease in the developed world. It is the number one cause of death in America and the number one killer of women. Heart disease claims the lives of more women than breast and lung cancer combined.
Many early symptoms of heart disease are identical to anxiety and indeed they often go together. Because of this, women are too often dismissed when it comes to these warning signs. Doctors frequently tell them their symptoms are psychosomatic; they’re given anti-anxiety medication and sent on their way.
Unfortunately, most take the meds and move on, pushing away that feeling that something more is wrong. But as Moms Across America Executive Director, Zen Honeycutt, learned through personal experience, these symptoms: fatigue, fluttering, or tightness in the chest—can all also be signs of early heart disease. And too often, the very next symptom is a heart attack and death.
Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic. When the arteries lose their elasticity, thicken, or harden, arteriosclerosis occurs, which restricts blood flow. This can occur anywhere in the body. A blood clot can completely block blood flow and trigger a heart attack or stroke. But new diagnostics and increasingly validated dietary corrections offer a new day in heart disease prevention.
“When I received a Multifunction Cardiogram test and discovered that I have intermediate myocarditis, I was shocked,” said Zen. “I had markers on almost all of the categories on nearly all of the five readings during the testing for myocarditis . . . I was classified as clinically actionable.”
According to Sam Fillingane, D.O., who specializes in cardiovascular risk reduction, most coronary artery disease occurs due to ten disease states that create circulating cardiovascular inflammation (see the 10 disease state picture below). The inflammation created by these disease states enters the blood vessel endothelial walls and secretes a chemical that causes the LDL-C [cholesterol] to enter the blood vessel. LDL-C never enters a blood vessel without an invitation from this inflammatory chemical called a chemokine.
“The patient that controls the cardiovascular inflammation wins,” says Fillingane as the inflammation is the root cause of developing coronary and cardiovascular disease throughout the body. Zen is working on reducing her inflammatory markers every day and you can too!
[insert disease states image from Filligane]
What You Can Do Now For Optimal Heart Health
The number one best remedy for heart health and happiness is literally love. Loving feelings toward others— pets, children, friends, and humanity in general—nourish and protect our hearts. The beneficial stress buffer doesn’t have to come from a healthy marriage or partnership, but loving relationships are one of the best safeguards against heart disease. The Framingham Heart Study—a long-term, ongoing study has examined various factors related to cardiovascular health and found that individuals in satisfying marriages tend to have a lower risk of developing heart disease compared to those in unsatisfying or conflict-ridden relationships1. The key here in any type of relationship is to avoid conflict that is unproductive. Resolve misunderstandings or issues peacefully, and if you chronically can’t, then move on from that person, and focus on other nourishing relationships. Temporarily having a “heart-break” is better than a chronically stressed heart, long-term.
Vitamin D from the Sun
Full-spectrum light, which includes sunlight, is a supportive nutrient for heart function. In The Seven Year Study (the same that was misconstrued to implicate sun causing cancer), latitude of locations predicted 90% of the variation in heart disease-related deaths, according to Dr. Zoe Harcombe. This makes complete sense when one understands the role of sunshine, vitamin D, and cholesterol. Harcombe states:
Vitamin D can be ingested, and it can be made from skin cholesterol. Natural sunlight hitting cholesterol in our skin cell membranes turns the cholesterol into vitamin D. With reduced sunlight, in countries further away from the equator, there is reduced sunlight to turn cholesterol into vitamin D. This would logically leave more cholesterol in the body and higher cholesterol levels in areas where heart disease was found to be higher. However, the cholesterol level is in no way a cause of heart disease (cholesterol is one of the primary repair/protection tool kits at the body's disposal)2.
Nutrient Dense, Low sugar, Protein-Rich Diet, Plus Exercise
Good nutrition starts in the soil. In addition to ensuring your food comes from the cleanest organic sources, it’s important to recognize the role of high-quality animal proteins and unprocessed plant-based proteins in a heart-healthy diet. After much debate over the past decade over animal proteins and heart health, the scientific consensus is emerging that it’s sugar, not fat or animal products that carries the risk for heart disease3. Refined sugar is the leading cause of heart disease4, while high-quality protein offers the most important dietary protection: “We must shift from a fat-focused perspective to a muscle-centric one. Muscle is the organ of longevity,” says Gabrielle Lyons, DO, who specializes in muscle as an organ system. And the carbs that are consumed should primarily be from unprocessed whole foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
There are good fats and bad fats. This cannot be overemphasized. Warnings against egg consumption, taught to doctors for years, for example, were particularly upside-down. Numerous studies have provided evidence suggesting that moderate egg consumption does not raise the risk of heart disease and the good cholesterol eggs contain is actually protective56. The most comprehensive meta-studies7 show that eggs—a nutrient-dense food, rich in high-quality proteins, essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats—contain the protective type of cholesterol. Eggs raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is often referred to as "good" cholesterol8.
A large egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein, making it an excellent source of complete protein, containing all essential amino acids required by the body. Furthermore, eggs provide essential nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, choline, and lutein, which contribute to overall heart health9.
Other good fats include olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and wild-caught fish.
Exercise is critical to heart health. Dr. Fillingane recommends what he calls The 25/50 Rule: The “25” stands for the typical limit of carbohydrates that a patient can eat in a 4-hour period to avoid a liver response of bad fat and inflammatory factor output. Insulin-resistant patients that eat more than 25 grams of carbs in a 4-hour period will cause their liver to make “bad fats” and cardiovascular inflammatory factors for 4 days nonstop, says Fillingane. It’s important to consult with a good functional medicine doctor to determine the best nutrient ratios for your individual heart. The “50” in Fillinganes’s rule is the number of minutes of aerobic exercise that is needed daily to remove the bulk of the circulating cardiovascular inflammation. Fillingane advises aerobic exercise for at least 50 minutes daily, getting the heart rate above 70% of capacity, which for most people will be in the 115-120 beats per minute range (again consult with your individual functional or integrative medicine doctor).
Nitric Oxide Supplementation & New Diagnostics
There are currently more than 100,000 medical studies in the past twenty years that validate the importance of nitric oxide and its beneficial impact on cellular health. The Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology was awarded in 1998 for discoveries related to the role of nitric oxide in reversing heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
*Nitric Oxide, a primary ingredient in Cardio Miracle:
- is a short-lived gas produced in the walls of arteries and veins.
- is stimulated by amino acids or other ingredients.
- is one of the body's most powerful natural antioxidants.
Editor’s Note: Moms Across America (MAA) is thrilled to offer the Women’s Heart Care Program. MAA Executive Director, Zen Honeycutt, founded this exciting program after using the nitric oxide boosting* nutraceutical Cardio Miracle 2x a day for 2.5 months. Zen’s risk levels (as shown by Multifunction Cardiogram) went down significantly and she wants everyone to know that early to intermediate heart disease risk can be reversed.
“The Multifunctional Cardiogram test is likely the biggest breakthrough in cardiovascular medicine in my lifetime,” said Dr. Fillingane.
The Women’s Heart Care Program, includes: reducing stress, maintaining a healthy diet, exercise, and the nitric oxide supplement Cardio Miracle, The test is available at Heartwise Health LLC (MAA sponsor).
Most importantly, approach everything and everyone in everyday life from a heart-centered place. Keeping love in your heart can literally help save your life.