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Are there natural approaches to treating heart disease?

Last Modified: February 02, 2022

Heart Health

Heart disease

This post was written by Patrick Gregory, MD, PPG - Cardiology.

During my career, people have frequently asked me whether or not there are natural approaches to treat heart disease. The answer to this question, at its origin, is arguably one of the most critical medical studies in history known as the Framingham Heart Study. This trial observed people who developed heart disease during the research project and the characteristics that were statistically associated with and contributed to its development. These characteristics or risk factors included age, sex, family history, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol/lipids, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet.

Once identified, the next step was to investigate whether addressing the modifiable risk factors such as smoking, diet, sedentary lifestyle, etc., was associated with a decrease in the risk of heart attack, stroke and death. Interestingly, researchers found that by making changes to those risk factors, patients with established heart disease and those without did indeed have a decreased risk of heart attack, stroke and death. Therefore, taking steps to focus on cardiac risk factors has become the foundation of treating and preventing heart disease.

Ways to naturally promote heart health

The bottom line, a wellness-based lifestyle is extremely important. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends doing the following:

  • Stop smoking: For those people who smoke, quitting is strongly advised. If you are looking for assistance, Parkview offers a cessation program to assist you on your journey. Also, this goes without saying, but if you don’t currently use tobacco products, please do not start!
  • Diet: The AHA recommends that you use up at least as many calories as you take in. They also emphasize consuming a diet that includes the following:
    • A wide variety of fruits and vegetables
    • Whole grains and whole-grain products
    • Healthy sources of protein
    • Liquid non-tropical vegetable oils
    • Minimally processed foods
    • Reduced intake of added sugars
    • Foods prepared with little or no salt
    • Limited or preferably no alcohol
  • Exercise: Maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial. The AHA recommends a target of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Remember, a little goes a long way. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further away from the building. Either way, it will all add up in the end.
  • Weight: The ultimate goal is to get into a lifestyle or program that helps you stay consistent with a nutritious diet and plenty of exercise so you can maintain a healthy weight.
  • Diabetes and cholesterol/blood lipid management: Working closely with your provider to manage and maintain these conditions to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Seeking assistance

The Parkview Heart Institute has several resources available to help you manage and prevent heart disease. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or would like to understand your risk factors for heart disease, please speak with your primary care provider or cardiologist today.

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