Weight Loss & Cardiovascular Disease
Despite all our knowledge on weight loss and weight management, and unprecedented pharmacological advances in this area, the stats still show that heart attack (otherwise known as myocardial infarction) and heart disease or cardiovascular disease, are our top, silent but deadly diseases! Yet identifying and managing risk is quite straight forward and can be improved quickly. Reducing risk requires lifestyle changes, changing habits and of course an open mind.
Weight Loss First
Heart disease and weight loss go hand in hand, in most instances, most of us want to reduce weight because it looks good, when we look good we feel good, right? But there are some more pressing reasons beyond aesthetics, and of course reducing heart disease risk is top of the list. But other reasons include improved agility, reduced burden on joints especially knees, reduced inflammation, aches, stiffness, reduced risk of diabetes, reduced risk of many cancers and a reduction in sleep apnea, just to name a few.
There are so many reasons to place weight management on the top of your priority list – spend the time and effort in this area and you will reduce your risk of so many diseases. There are many different ways to do this, starting by reducing overall food intake and increasing movement is a sensible first line approach. You can have fun doing this once you understand how, it just needs education, patience and learning new habits.
What Can Block Weight Loss?
Here is a list of a few things that can block your weight loss efforts:
- high stress – cortisol levels increase blood glucose which in turn increases insulin levels
- high blood glucose
- high insulin levels
- hypothyroid issues, including hashimoto’s
- gut flora issues
- too many sugars, be that artificial or natural
- over eating any foods even if its just good foods can prevent you from losing weight
- lack of physical activity
How To Assess Your Heart Risk
The top 5 heart risks are:
- high blood pressure (hypertention)
- high cholesterol and triglycerides (dyslipidaemia)
Whilst traditional evaluation of these risk factors are defined at a specific abnormal level, it is very clear that there is a spectrum of risk that starts before “abnormal levels” are reached and often other risk factors are overlooked! This is known as the “cardiovascular disease gap” (CVD gap) which effects blood vessels and results in endothelial dysfunction, even before the above risks get to “alarm bell” levels. Assessments need to look beyond the usual 5 and include other factors.
There Are Heaps More Cardio Risk Factors!
There is a large scope for improvement in the evaluation of cardiovascular health. Let’s take a look at the markers that are often ignored in traditional evaluations, leaving us as risk!
- C reactive protein (CRP) and high sensitive CRP (hsCRP) – one assessment of inflammation
- Ferritin (stored iron) – another possible assessment of inflammation
- Fasting glucose
- Fasting insulin
- Fasting homocysteine – assessment of methylation
- vitamin D
- waist circumference
- oxidative stress markers
- genetic predisposition
How Do I Lower My Risk?
By far the best way to protect yourself from cardiovascular risk is to normalise your weight, avoid cigarette smoking, ensure normal glucose and insulin levels, reduce stress and rectify any vitamin D deficiencies. Strategies that do this commonly reduce cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure – bingo! What are those strategies, well, reducing weight by far is a big one, implementing stress management techniques like mindfulness and meditation, exercising and keeping active. Add the king of cardiovascular antioxidants like coenzyme Q10, to this mix and we are getting somewhere. Not only will you reduce your heart risks, you also improve your life.