Keeping A Healthy Heart
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be the world’s biggest killer accounting for one in three of all deaths; so little wonder a new drug-stated as the biggest breakthrough since statins has been hailed as a new dawn in heart treatment.
In Nigeria, more than 100,000 people will suffer a heart attack every year, but until now, cholesterol-lowering statins or blood-thinning drugs have been the only medicinal avenue available even though half of heart attacks occur in people who do not have high cholesterol at all, and a quarter go on to suffer a second attack with a year despite treatment.
Now scientists claim an anti-inflammatory drug called Canakinumab injected every three months, has the potential to cut the risk of fatal repeat heart attacks and strokes by 24% (9% over and above the impact of statins). Unlike statins, its purpose is not to combat high cholesterol, but rather to reduce inflammation which have long suspected of playing a role in cardiovascular disease, cancer and a whole host of other pathological problems from rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome to depression and cancer.
Heart attacks and all sorts of neurological problems are caused by chronic inflammatory molecules in the bloodstream, which in high levels damage the lining of the arteries. You see, chronic inflammation is the culprit. Inflammation is one of the body’s natural healing responses to infection or injury but while acute inflammation (such as the scabbing over of a cut, or a sore throat during a cold) resolves quickly, chronic inflammation is pervasive and ongoing, has the biochemical that should repair your body do the opposite, destroying tissue and cause cells to malfunction.
Drugs do cost a lot and do come with fatal side effects, so, while we wait for more affordable drugs, what can we do today to start combatting inflammation?
Answer: There are much more simple (anti-inflammatory) solutions for patients that don’t involve drugs, and which could be even more effective.
1. Eat a Mediterranean diet
Following a relatively high (good) fat Mediterranean diet is one of the chief ways to improve heart health by reducing inflammation. Polyphenols (plant-based compounds) and Omega 3 fatty acids, which can be found in certain foods help reduce inflammation. Cutting out sugar is also key, as too much glucose in the bloodstream makes your body resistant to insulin, which in turn increases inflammation.
2. Watch for gum disease
If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, you most likely have oral inflammation. Make an appointment to see your dentist for a check-up and step up your oral hygiene.
3. Get more sleep and exercise
Lack of sleep increases the level of cortisol and blood glucose in the bloodstream reduces your body’s ability to deal with stress. And chronic stress increases the impact of inflammation in the bloodstream even further. Regular exercise doesn’t just help to combat stress and improve the quality of your sleep but reduces the body’s resistance to insulin which indirectly affects inflammation too.
4. Stop smoking
Of course, the obvious one, quit smoking because smoking is a pro-inflammatory.