Dr. Leia Answers Questions on Women’s Heart Health Issues
Question for Dr. Leia: My parents both had heart health issues. My father had surgery
due to clogged arteries, and my mother had bi pass surgery.
I would certainly like to know what precautions I should take since it seems that heart issues run in my family.
Should I be taking a daily aspirin for heart health?
I know that women heart health care may be different than men. Could you please give me some guidance on supplements
I could be taking, or advice on what tests I could take to ensure that I don’t end up the same way. Thank
you Dr. Leia for answering my question. Helena.
Dr. Leia’s Answer: Dear Helena, thank you for your concern about heart health for
women. Since heart disease is the number one cause of mortality in the United States, it should be of concern
to both men and women. For women, heart attacks, stroke, angina(heart pain), and atherosclerosis (hardening
of the arteries), can manifest a bit differently than in men, especially as women age after menopause when
women lose the protective effects of estrogen on their circulatory system.
You didn’t mention how old you are, but if you are premenopausal or haven’t yet experienced menopause, and
are essentially healthy, have a normal total cholesterol level with low levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein,
the bad cholesterol), and high levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein, the good cholesterol), then it might
be harmful for you to take a daily preventative dose of aspirin each day as self medication. There are much
safer ways to protect yourself from future heart problems. Here is what makes better sense to do:
First: Have a regular complete physical examination done by your family doctor. Be sure to have him/her check
your blood pressure and listen to your heart rate. Also, have your blood tests done for Total Cholesterol,
HDL, LDL, trigylceride, and a lipid ratio. It is the lipid ratio which is the most important parameter and
indicator of your current and future risk for heart disease.
Also important is the homocysteine level which can be easily corrected with additional vitamin B12, B6, and
folic acid added to your supplementation. You might also want to add a CRP or C-reactive protein test which
has been found to be an important marker for inflammation, which is common with artery disease. If there
is any abnormalities, then your doctor will order further progressive testing such as a EKG or electrocardiogram,
Then, if all of these tests show normal results, you should look at your diet, exercise and supplementation
schedule. A healthy diet consisting of fresh fresh vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, healthy
fats such as olive oil, and Omega 3 fatty acids, low in animal and dairy fats which include full fat cheese,
ice cream, milk yogurt, normal to low salt intake, and low sweets and minimal sugars(this includes honey,
dextrose, fructose, maple syrup, corn syrup, as well as sucanat, brown and white sugar. In other words, all
sugars). It has been shown that every time you eat a fatty meal, with animal fat or whole fat dairy products,
then there occurs an inflammatory reaction in your artery walls which begins to slowly lay down the beginnings
of the process of clogging of the arteries.
Interestingly, in a very recent study, it was shown that when the subjects ate a handful of walnuts (about
6-8 whole raw unsalted walnut pieces) with each fatty meal, then this inflammatory reaction was prevented.
This study also tested the effects of olive oil on the artery walls. When just olive oil was used, this inflammatory
response was not stopped. So, I would recommend that whenever one eats a fatty meal, to include a handful
of raw, unsalted walnuts. Olive oil, even though it did not stop the inflammatory response in this study,
is still considered to be one of the good fats, and therefore, should still be considered one of the good
fats of choice in the diet.
Exercise is important also, specificially aerobic exercise which will elevate your heart rate and give you
a good workout. It has been shown that one-half hour of aerobic exercise at least 3-5 times per week is beneficial
to heart health. Stretching exercises such as yoga, tai chi, Qigong, calisthenics, and pilates are important,
but they sometimes do not elevate your heart rate enough to qualify as aerobic exercises such as do bicycling,
running or jogging, swimming, tennis, long day treks or hiking, treadmill, dancing, or trampoline exercises.
Finally if heart problems run in your family and you have attended to all of the above, then supplementation
can also be preventative. Here are some good supplements which are safe and can be taken long-term:
Fish Oil capsules which include DHA and EPA, two important fatty acids which are
not found in other oils such as vegetable oils. These capsules are also labelled as Omega 3, so be sure that
your capsules include DHA and EPA, which are only mainly found in fish. Here is where you need to carefully
read the labels. The more expensive capsules will contain greater quantities of DHA and EPA. Caution should
be exercised in people who are allergic to fish and who have a prolonged clotting or bleeding time and who
are taking other anticoagulant blood clotting drugs. If you are on these drugs, do not take fish oil capsules
without your doctors permission and without the monitoring of your clotting factors.
Vitamin E in it’s natural form, not the synthetic
form is recommended. There are two types of vitamin E sold in health food stores. One is synthetic,
and it is designated by the small letters dl-tocopherol, and the other form is natural which is designated
by the small letter d-tocopherol. Both forms are mirror images of each other which means that the molecules
are not exactly in the same position and thus they react differently in the body. So it is best to use
only the natural form, to ensure that it is adequately absorbed by the body. Try to take your vitamin
E daily and regularly, in doses not higher than 400IU. If you need higher doses, please do so only under
your natural health care doctor. Sometimes, if vitamin E is taken sporatically, then it may place an
extra burden on the heart and may cause irregular heart beat or interfere with the blood pressure.
Co enzyme Q 10 is a chemical which is found naturally in every tissue of the body.
It has been shown to an important substance for keeping the heart healthy and strong. It is a powerful antioxidant
and an important supplement to take if one is suffering from some sort of heart or circulatory problems and
can also be taken safely long-term for prevention.
Adequate B vitamin complex.
Added Vitamin B 12 in sublingual or nasal gel form. B 12 is not absorbed orally,
so it needs to be administered via under the tongue or nasally.
A full spectrum digestive enzyme. Indigestion can also pose as heart problems.
Please do not self medicate with any supplements, even if they are natural supplements, without your doctor’s
guidance. There are certain adverse drug-supplement interactions which can occur, so it is best to seek out
the advice of both your medical doctor and your natural health care doctor. Each person is an individual
and will react differently to both natural and chemical substances. If you already have early or advanced
stages of atheroschlerosis, please ask your natural doctor about the advanced specialty products such as
nattokinase, lumbrokinase, and proteolytic enzyme use.
Dr. Leia Melead
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