February is heart health month, a time to bring attention to the importance of cardiovascular health, and what we can do to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease affects approximately 2.4 million Canadian adults, and is the second leading cause of death in Canada. I find these statistics so alarming because it is also a disease that is hugely impacted by our lifestyle choices. We can all reduce our risk of heart disease by quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

When a patient’s blood-work shows that their cholesterol is elevated or their blood pressure starts creeping up on routine screenings, I view this like the warning light on your car’s dashboard lighting up. The body is telling us that it needs maintenance and that we need to pay attention and make some changes.

Like anything else in naturopathic medicine, the right treatment depends on the root cause. In an appointment we are able to go through a patient’s health history to determine if the high cholesterol is genetic, the result of poor dietary choices or a lack of exercise. Together we are able to put a plan in place to reverse the condition and get the body back into balance.

If we choose not to pay attention to these warning signs and we fail to make the appropriate changes, we often end up on prescription medications. While these medications are the best choice in some situations, there can be side effects. Did you know that statin medications deplete your levels of co-enzyme Q10? Even small decreases in CoQ10 can disrupt the body’s ability to produce energy and cause other compromises in function. In addition, CoQ10 is important as an antioxidant to prevent atherosclerosis.

Naturopathic doctors are experts at working with patients who need to be on medications and incorporating supplements to minimize side effects, while being aware of any potential nutrient-drug interactions. Naturopathic medicine is really great at preventing and reversing heart disease because it takes into account the whole person. Because every situation is unique, there is no one diet plan, exercise routine or supplement regime that is right for everyone. Contact Dr. Bell if you would like help putting together an individualized plan to improve your cardiovascular health today.