Heart disease is a major problem and the statistics are concerning. Every 7 minutes, someone dies from heart disease or stroke in Canada, which are two of the three leading causes of death in this country. What’s more, 9 in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke, which include smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Despite the grim statistics, data from the Public Health Agency of Canada indicate that the number of Canadian adults newly diagnosed with heart disease declined from 221,800 to 158,700 between 2001 and 2013. In addition, the death rate among individuals with known heart disease has decreased by 23% since the turn of the millennium  . This is due to several factors, one of which is increased prevention efforts. From good eating habits and exercise, to taking preventative supplements and reducing stress, there is a lot you can do to help maintain cardiovascular health.
More Omega-3s, Please!
One of the most clinically proven and researched supplements for promoting healthy cardiovascular function is omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and seed oils such as flaxseed. Omega-3s help to reduce blood pressure, triglyceride levels, cholesterol levels, platelet aggregation, arrhythmia, and arterial plaque formation. They are particularly important for people who have had a heart attack. In one study of over 11,300 heart attack patients, those who took 1000 mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids had a 45% reduction in sudden cardiac death compared to those who did not. This improvement, which was seen in only three months, suggests that omega-3s could have more benefit than cholesterol-lowering drugs, which do not usually show improvement until a year or more of therapy.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant that is involved in highly energetic tissues, especially muscle, to create cellular energy. The heart is one of the most physically active organs; heart muscle pumps roughly 5 litres of blood per minute, which is equivalent to 300 litres per hour or 7,200 litres per day at rest. Although the human body can make CoQ10, this process requires at least eight vitamins, trace minerals, and the amino acid tyrosine. The amount of CoQ10 available from our food is only a tiny fraction of the quantity needed each day and because of the complexity of its production, CoQ10 deficiency is common. Several peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 has superior absorption compared to the ubiquinone form. The amount of CoQ10 absorbed into the blood stream is of critical importance because studies conclusively show that higher CoQ10 blood levels provide greater health benefits, especially in terms of cardiovascular health.
Garlic has been used for centuries as a culinary herb, as well as for its heart-supporting properties. In people with high blood pressure, garlic can reduce systolic blood pressure by 16 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 9.3 mmHg compared with placebo. However, it does not lower blood pressure in those with normal levels. If you don’t want everyone around you to know you’ve just taken a garlic supplement, look for a concentrated enteric-coated odourless garlic supplement that contains the active ingredient allicin in stabilized form.
Managing Cholesterol and Homocysteine
Cholesterol and homocysteine levels in the blood are two markers that can indicate cardiovascular disease. Several natural supplements can reverse elevated “bad” LDL cholesterol and low “good” HDL cholesterol. When dietary changes do not show a positive effect on your cholesterol numbers, Policosanol – derived from the outer wax of the sugarcane plant – and Sytrinol – a phytosterol formulation from natural citrus and palm fruit extracts – can be incorporated to help promote healthy cholesterol ratios.
Homocysteine is a molecule that makes a person more prone to endothelial injury, which leads to vascular inflammation, and in turn, may lead to arterial injury. This is correlated with the occurrence of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. A high level of homocysteine in the blood is therefore a possible risk factor for coronary artery disease. Three B vitamins can encourage homocysteine’s conversion to a non-damaging molecule: vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid. Taking these individually or in combination, or as part of a multi B-complex on a daily basis, may help to prevent homocysteine levels from rising.
Even More Support
New research findings in the field of cardiovascular disease are being published on a daily basis. Other supplementation for a healthy heart includes vitamin K2, celery seed extract, fish peptides, and heavy metal chelation support. Managing acute or chronic stress is also a critical component to supporting heart health. Some great options for reducing symptoms and the negative effects of stress include rhodiola, L-theanine, and magnesium. Speak with a health care practitioner about your own risk factors to help determine if you should consider one of these supplements.
Dietary, lifestyle, and supplemental measures are key to warding off cardiovascular disease. The options described here are just a few ways you can keep your heart healthy and happy with natural health products to fight heart disease.
 Reinhart KM, Coleman CI, Teevan C, et al. (2008). Effects of garlic on blood pressure in patients with and without systolic hypertension: a meta-analysis. Ann Pharmacother. 42(12):1766-1771.