Hello everyone, and happy Valentine's Day!
As a clinical nutritionist and functional medicine practitioner, I am passionate about helping people take care of their hearts, and what better day to talk about heart health than on this special day?
An amazing organ
The human heart is truly a marvel of nature, full of magic and mystery. From very early on in our growth in the womb, our hearts begin to beat, and they keep beating tirelessly for nearly a century.
The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to our cells and carrying away waste products. It's an incredibly efficient machine that can pump more than 2,000 gallons of blood through our bodies every day.
What's even more amazing is how the heart starts beating in the womb, even before our brains have fully formed. The heart develops from a tiny cluster of cells that grow and divide, eventually forming a complex network of blood vessels and chambers that work together to keep us alive.
Once the heart is fully formed, it begins to beat on its own, regulated by electrical impulses that originate in a small area of specialised cells called the sinoatrial node. These electrical signals travel through the heart, causing it to contract and relax in a rhythmic pattern that we know as our heartbeat.
The heart is so important to our survival that it's protected by a bony cage, the ribcage, and surrounded by a sac called the pericardium. The heart also has its own blood supply, with two main coronary arteries that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle itself.
Despite all of the work it does, the heart is incredibly resilient and adaptable, able to adjust to changing circumstances and even regenerate some of its own cells. It's no wonder that the heart has been the subject of fascination and awe for centuries, with many cultures considering it the seat of the soul and the source of our deepest emotions.
Our emotions and our heart health
Emotions can have a profound effect on the heart, both in the short-term and over the course of our lives. When we experience strong emotions, such as fear, anger, or joy, our heart rate and blood pressure can change in response. For example, when we're stressed or anxious, our bodies release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can increase our heart rate and blood pressure, putting extra strain on the heart.
Over time, chronic stress and negative emotions can take a toll on the heart and increase the risk of heart disease. In fact, studies have shown that people who experience high levels of stress and negative emotions are more likely to develop heart disease than those who are able to manage their stress and maintain positive emotions.
Broken heart syndrome
People can experience an actual physical reaction in response to extreme emotional distress that can lead to a condition known as broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. This condition is a temporary and reversible weakening of the heart muscles, which can be triggered by an emotionally stressful event, such as the loss of a loved one or a sudden trauma.
Broken heart syndrome can cause symptoms similar to those of a heart attack, including chest pain, shortness of breath, and an irregular heartbeat. However, unlike a heart attack, broken heart syndrome doesn't typically involve blockages in the coronary arteries. Instead, the heart muscle is affected by a surge of stress hormones, which can cause it to weaken and enlarge.
Although broken heart syndrome is usually a temporary condition and doesn't typically cause long-term damage to the heart, in rare cases, it can lead to complications such as heart failure, heart arrhythmias, or even death. The exact causes of broken heart syndrome are not fully understood, but it's thought to be related to a combination of physical and emotional factors.
Heart disease is a significant health concern, and there are various risks that can contribute to its development. These include high cholesterol levels, blood sugar imbalances, low nutrient status, poor liver health, and chronic inflammation.
Symptoms of heart problems can vary, but they can include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations, dizziness, and swelling in the ankles or legs. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to visit your GP as soon as possible. Chest pain should always be checked by emergency services, as it could be a sign of a heart attack
To reduce the risk of heart problems, there are certain lifestyle factors that we can focus on, such as adopting a healthy diet - For example, a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help reduce inflammation, support healthy blood sugar levels, and improve cholesterol levels.
Additionally, regular exercise, stress management, quitting smoking, watching alcohol intake and getting quality sleep can also play a significant role in keeping our hearts healthy. It's also important to manage our emotions and stress levels to help to keep our heart healthy. This can include practices like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques, as well as finding healthy ways to express our emotions and connect with others.
Heart Health Check
As a clinical nutritionist and functional medicine practitioner, I offer a comprehensive blood test that can help assess your heart health.
This test includes lipid levels, blood sugar levels, CRP (C-reactive protein), liver function, and key nutrients that are important for heart health.
Once we have the results of the test, we'll have a one-to-one consultation to discuss the findings and provide clinical advice on how to improve your cardiovascular health. You can read more about this by clicking the link below.
The human heart is an amazing organ, capable of working tirelessly for nearly a century, and sustaining our lives with its tireless beat. It truly is a marvel of nature, and one that we should cherish and care for throughout our lives.
By taking care of our emotional and physical health, we can help protect our hearts and live full, joyful lives.
In Eastern philosophy, the heart is seen as the centre of our being, and maintaining its health and balance is crucial for our overall well-being. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is associated with the emotion of joy and is considered the most important of the body's organs. When the heart is healthy and balanced, we feel happy, fulfilled, and connected to the world around us.
So, on this Valentine's Day, let's focus on loving our hearts and taking care of them as best we can.
If you're concerned about your heart health or just want to be proactive in keeping your heart healthy, please reach out to me, and we can work together to develop a plan that's tailored to your unique needs.
Are you concerned about your cardiovascular health? Are you seeking to make improvements to your lifestyle to benefit the health of your heart?
The heart health check is a comprehensive test that checks the key areas that can implicate your cardiovascular health. Not only this, it also checks your nutrient status which is vital for your metabolic health, and therefor your cardiovascular balance.
It`s common to be told your conventional healthcare blood tests are normal when actually, you are far from optimal. When people fall out of the optimal range they become symptomatic.
This is a blood test that you can do in the comfort of your own home with a simple finger prick test. It test for:
The happy heart health check is £220 and includes all testing and a half an hour 1:1 session, reviewing your results and offering advice to help support your health.
*Fasting glucose is taken in clinic during your one to one session. It is not available for distance clients who are meeting through zoom.
The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.