Heart disease - JASE Medical

Want to live longer? Change your thoughts

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time shared with friends, family, and coworkers. However, many things can take a toll on your emotional health. Job loss or job insecurity, financial woes, loss of health or a loved one can cause depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. Holidays of years past may bring back memories filled with past friends and family get togethers and traditions. If you have had a significant life change over the past year, you may be dreading the holiday season. Focusing on what you have and not what you don’t have is the start to successfully finding your way towards a healthy outlook this holiday season.

Hopefulness, enthusiasm and emotional balance are associated with a substantially reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

As Dr Caroline Leaf, neuropsychiatrist  points out: thoughts occupy mental real estate in our brains.

Inflammation, brought on by emotional stressors and negative thoughts, triggers the release of hormones and chemicals in the body-namely cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones and chemicals can also cause the body to produce inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines leading to production of more inflammatory molecules, such as C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

Inflammation and how it relates to heart disease

Inflammation can cause heart attacks by damaging the inner lining of the arteries. This can lead to the formation of plaque. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances can build up in the arteries and cause them to narrow. This narrowing of the arteries can reduce or block the flow of blood to the heart, leading to a heart attack.

Start With Gratitude

Studies show that gratitude, meditation, and prayer enhance immune system function and lowers inflammatory markers. Inflammation, along with smoking and poor lifestyle habits are some of the primary drivers of heart disease. Gratitude journals, where you list 5 things you are grateful for each day, is a powerful tool to combat negativity and increase feelings of well-being.

Decrease Inflammation by Increasing the Levels of These 4 Chemicals

The following are powerful feel-good, stress relieving messengers that can aid in reducing your risk of heart disease. You may note that many of the same activities overlap. For instance, you can increase serotonin, endorphins and dopamine by exercise.

Serotonin

Promotes feelings of belonging and well-being. Up to 95 percent of serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan in the mucosal lining of the gut. Serotonin plays a valuable role in not only mental health but is the precursor to melatonin, and plays a role in digestion, wound healing and even sleep (as the precursor to melatonin).

Loneliness and depressive moods are linked to an altered and limited diversity of the gut microbiome. Inflammation caused by stress can lower levels of serotonin. Taking care of the gut can result in decreased inflammation.

Enhance serotonin levels by:

  • Consuming mega 3 rich foods – decrease inflammation, probiotics and fermented foods can help maintain gut integrity.
  • Connect with loved ones
  • Practice self-care everyday
  • Exercise Spend time outdoors
  • Practice gratitude

Endorphins – Natural pain killers, AKA as the “runners high”

Released by the pituitary gland, endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers. They are released when you are under stress, experiencing pain, eating or exercising. 

Enhance endorphin levels by:

Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is mostly manufactured in the brain. However other organs, such as the adrenal glands also manufacture some dopamine. Dubbed the “feel good” chemical, dopamine also plays a role in blood pressure regulation, cardiac output, and blood flow to organs.

Enhance dopamine levels by:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Exercise
  • Meditation or prayer
  • Avoid stressful situations.
  • Listening to music
  • Singing

Oxytocin

Oxytocin is nicknamed the “cuddle” or “love” hormone. It is produced in the hypothalamus region of the brain. It promotes social interaction which can lead to feeling of well-being, cuddling, sex and even petting your dog or cat can produce oxytocin.

Enhance oxycontin levels by  

  • Physical affection
  • Showing love and affection
  • Spending time with loved ones and friends
  • Petting your dog or cat or favorite animal

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

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These Days are The Most Deadly for Heart Attacks

(Heart healthy hacks series)

According to the American Heart Association. the 3 deadliest days in the calendar year for cardiac deaths are: in first place, December 25th, second is December 26th  and third deadliest is January 1st .

There are several possible reasons for this phenomena- from the increased stress surrounding the holiday season to poor dietary habits and alcohol use. This time of year also can bring many mixed emotions of loved ones not with us anymore, along with monetary and declining health of ourselves or loved ones. However, with a little planning and self-care you can decrease the odds of becoming a statistic and enjoy the holiday season.

Things we can control over the holidays:

  • Our diet: It is very easy, with all the hustle and business during this time of year to neglect your diet and eat whatever sugary foods find their way into the breakroom or home. Your health will suffer if you don’t take charge and plan for success. This doesn’t mean depriving yourself of a holiday goodie, but it does mean using moderation and self-control.
  • Our attitude: I often hear people say they hate this time of year. They often state it is all the little things they have to do. We will delve into ways to set boundaries and time management skills in this post.
  • Our thoughts: As Dr Caroline Leaf, neuropsychiatrist points out: thoughts occupy mental real estate in our brains. Find out how we can change our thoughts, leading to less stress and a more peaceful holiday season.
  • Our activities and stress level: Filling our lives with activities we really don’t want to do or have little meaning sets you up for depression and a downward spiral of emotions. Manage stress through eliminating meaningless chores and responsibilities taken on during past years. This will free you up to experience a fulfilling life rooted in meaning and purpose.

5 Tips for heart healthy eating over the holidays

I reached out to fellow nurse Mary Yuter, founder of  Heart to Soul Cardiac Wellness  for some heart healthy snacks and tips to successfully navigate the holidays:

For cardiac health, here are 5 snack pointers:

1) Cayenne pepper in coffee or cacao. Cayenne pepper is a vasodilator and acts as a blood thinner.

2) Dark chocolate 70% and greater for the magnesium and antioxidant benefits. We are all deficient in magnesium, and the heart loves magnesium!

3) Eat a sliced clove (not bulb) of raw garlic to act as a blood thinner. Cut it into slices first and wait at least 15 seconds for a compound to turn from Allin to Allicin, the magic blood thinning property. Then enjoy! I do tell my clients to have garlic before flying-hey-it may get them an empty seat next to them on the plane!

4) A banana a day also keeps the heart doctor away due to the potassium that the heart also loves.

5) Fruits with pectin such as apples and pears are great for taking down cholesterol. Add cinnamon and you have blood glucose control!

Snack idea: Nature’s Carmel: a square of dark chocolate with a date (antimicrobial, antiparasitic) and a brazil nut (selenium and healthy fat)

  • A great trick to combat the holiday parties is to eat before you go to the party.
  • Bring a dish you will eat, and stick with that.
  • Allow yourself a treat, that’s it-not a diving board into the pool of the dessert table!
  • Remember-you are the boss of your taste buds and if your hips could weigh in, they would be yelling at your taste buds!

Mary goes on to state, “Be the positive example for others by your actions.”

In addition, limit or avoid alcohol altogether. Alcohol can cause depression, leading to overeating and poor food choices. Also check out the American Heart Association’s Heart-Happy Holiday Guide for more heart healthy tips and recipes.

With a little planning, you will be able to enter 2024 without having to shed those extra pounds and more importantly, decrease your chances of a cardiac event.

Note: Self-care also means staying on top of your prescription medications. Check out Jase Daily for your year’s supply of chronic medications.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

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Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

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Keeping you informed and safe.

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Men: Lose the Stigma, Regain Your Health

The stigma that surrounds mental health, especially when it comes to men has created a vacuum of silence. With all the awareness of mental health and services nowadays, men still don’t seek help in this arena.

Societal norms of masculinity, embarrassment and shame are some of the reasons men are less likely to seek help. Many view seeking help as a sign of weakness, and continue to try to cope with depression, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness on their own. Terms such as “unmanly” or “weak” are hold an undercurrent of negative connotation of what it means to be a man. In general, many men tend to hide their feelings from their family, putting on a false front that nothing is wrong but inside angst and inability to cope with these feelings can lead to destructive and unhealthy behavior.

Unhealthy ways of dealing with stress lead to physical and emotional destruction

Job pressure (or unemployed), stressful family relations, and social isolation, if not dealt with in a healthy manner can lead to serious health problems.  The buildup of stress hormones – the fight or flight mechanism that is designed to charge your muscles and entire nervous system with the energy to flee or fight a perceived danger can turn on itself if you aren’t able to effectively deal with the situation or have a physical outlet for all the stored-up energy. This mechanism was lifesaving back when life’s stressors were tied to survival- a bear attack, natural disasters that required rescue of a loved one or even hunting. In today’s modern world, these real life dangers and scenarios are not part of our daily lives. Stress nowadays is usually tied to our sedentary lifestyle. We ae unable to flee or physically fight the opponent. Because of this new ways of coping have to take place. If not, built up stress can lead to heart disease, cancer and even suicide. It is a widely known fact that stress,-or how you deal with it- is the leading cause of heart disease and cancer, which are the top two causes of death in men.

The fight or flight response to stress that isn’t dealt with can lead to anger outbursts, self-destructive behavior, feelings of helplessness, anxiety, depression and isolation from friends and family. Lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, alcohol, and substance abuse can snowball into more depression (alcohol is a depressant).

This same fight or flight response is responsible for the majority of deaths in men- increased cortisol levels from untreated stress, along with decreased immune function set the stage for the two most common causes of death in men- heart disease and cancer. If there is no outlet for stress, the body’s stored up adrenaline will literally take your body hostage.

Make your health a priority.

3 steps towards effectively dealing with stress

  1. Acknowledge your stress. If you haven’t already, take time out to figure out what is bothering you. Seek counselling or a trusted friend/ relative to confide in. There may be multiple stressors in your life. Stress can be anything- from long commutes in traffic, demanding work situations, demands- both reasonable and unreasonable from family and friends to an unexpected health crisis. Along with counselors, friends, and trusted family members to confide in, many find keeping a journal a good way to identify and keep track of events that trigger stress response.
  2. Plan. Make that counselling appointment or schedule time to talk with a trusted friend or family member and follow through. Many times, excuses and commitments get in the way of doing this. Schedule time as if it was an appointment- which it is-n appointment towards health and wellbeing. Make or keep doctors’ appointments. This is especially important if you haven’t seen your care provider for a while. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer. Many times, there are no symptoms until a fatal heart attack hits. Lifesaving medications may be prescribed to treat high blood pressure or other stress related diseases.

3. Once you have identified the stressor(s), remove the stress from your life. If you are unable to change the situation, find healthy ways to cope with it. Channel the excess energy through physical activity by joining a gym, running, hiking or a hobby that brings you enjoy. Maintain a healthy diet. Cut out alcohol if you are currently using it to cope with life’s stressors. Join an AA meeting if alcohol abuse is a problem. Meditation, deep breathing and refocusing can go a long way toward stress reduction. In addition, make sure you keep up with your annual doctor’s appointments. Your doctor may prescribe medication-either short term or long term to help cope with stress. In addition, some diseases go undiagnosed that can cause depression such as diabetes.

Life has become challenging in ways our ancestors never dreamed. Our world is constantly changing-more so in recent years than at any other time in history. It is easy to put off self-care while putting out life’s fires. However, by neglecting your own needs you set could be setting yourself up for long term health crises.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

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Doing This One Thing Will Slash Death Rates in Men

(Manage your stress before it manages you)

It is no secret that men are dying younger than in the past. Life expectancy for men dropped one full year, from 74.2 years in 2020 to 73.2 in 2021. Heart disease and cancer lead the pack as the two most common fatal diseases in men. Some of these reasons can be traced back to genetics- a parent or close relative with heart disease or cancer; however even taking this into consideration, many deaths are preventable. One of the major causes of heart disease and cancer is due to chronic stress.

Stress can be good- when not long term

Stress is a reaction to a real or perceived threat to life. In acute, or short-lived stress, the body activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal axis in a process known as “allostasis”. Powerful chemical messages are sent throughout the body to ready for either fight or flight from the situation. The adrenal glands produce the 3 stress response chemical messengers- adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol.

All three of these are necessary to sustain life when in balance.

Adrenaline (also known as adrenaline) redirects blood flow to the heart and lungs, increases heart rate, opens bronchus and lungs for better breathing, and raises blood sugar levels. This increases energy and focus, enabling the body to leave or fight the threat. In the medical setting, epinephrine is a life saving drug. For asthmatics it opens up airways, allowing easier breathing. In septic shock, the victims blood pressure plummets to dangerously low levels, epinephrine brings blood pressure up. Likewise, during a cardiac arrest event, blood pressure can drop, in turn inhibiting blood flow to vital organs and brain. Administering epinephrine brings blood pressure up which increases blood flow throughout the body.

Norepinephrine is considered a “back up” to epinephrine. It is produced in the adrenal medulla and functions in much the same way as epinephrine. Just like epinephrine, it maintains blood pressure during cardiac arrest and septic shock. It is also used in pericardial tamponade, a condition in which fluid builds up around the heart membrane, making it difficult for the heart to maintain blood pressure and neurogenic shock, a condition in which there is damage to nerve cells that are responsible for maintaining heart rate and blood pressure.

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland in response to a series of chemical messengers starting with the brain. (This is called the HPA axis) The brain receives a message of danger- physical, emotional or mental, it alerts the amygdala- a small region in the brain, which in turn releases corticotropin releasing hormone. This hormone activates the pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone, which in turn activates the adrenal gland to produce cortisol. Almost all body systems have receptors to cortisol. These are called glucocorticoid receptors. Cortisol regulates blood pressure, increases blood sugar, reduces inflammation and is involved in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. When not activated by stress, cortisol is released into the blood stream according to the circadian cycle (sleep/wake cycle) It is usually highest in the morning and fluctuates during the day, with the lowest amount in the middle of the night. During times of stress, cortisol is released from the adrenal glands into the bloodstream to ready the body for action. Increased blood sugar gives the muscles ready fuel to act.

Acute stress can be lifesaving, chronic stress can be life threatening

Causes of acute stress

Acute stress is the stress experienced on a daily basis from minor situations. Acute stress typically happens quickly and fades once the situation or circumstance has passed. Hormones return to prestress levels.  Examples that may cause acute stress include:

  • Argument or altercation
  • School exams
  • Physical competitions
  • Traffic jams
  • Acute stress symptoms include short lived anxiety, mood swings, irritability, anger, increased blood pressure(temporary) insomnia,

Acute stress doesn’t cause health issues, the body recovers quickly, and hormones return to normal within 24 hours.

Causes of chronic stress

Chronic stress, which is considered to be at the core of almost all health related conditions, happens when exposed to prolonged stress that doesn’t resolve.

Examples of chronic stress include:

  • Illness of a loved one where you are the caregiver,
  • PTSD- post traumatic stress disorder- either during military service or traumatic events in life
  • Loss of a job and inability to find another,
  • Emotional stress with a partner
  • Social isolation

Chronic stress and health

There are many health-related diseases associated with chronic stress. Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems. 50 percent of premature deaths in men are from heart disease and cancer. Chronic stress has been implicated in the progression of both.

Cancer– Animal studies consistently prove the link between chronic stress and cancer progression, however, researchers have stopped short of claiming chronic stress can bring on cancer. Given that stress affects the immune system and all the other effects chronic stress have on the body, it would seem that there is a link to cancer and chronic stress.

Heart disease- The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormones and of blood pressure, can take a toll on the body. This long-term ongoing stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.

How to deal with chronic stress

Set limits and refrain from taking on more commitments.

Cut back on any non-essential activities in your work life.  Identify tasks and projects that you must do and prioritize. Set aside time each day to review progress and prioritize these tasks. Do not take on any more tasks until you feel these are under control. Seek input and help from your coworkers and employer if you are feeling overwhelmed.  In social and family settings, re evaluate the time you spend and assess the quality of relationships. If there is animosity or other forms of stress between you and those you are close to, seek solutions, either through active listening and participation, counselling, or both.

Prioritize your mental and physical health and well-being

Everyone has chronic stress. It is how we view and deal with it that makes the difference. Self-care is imperative, both for you and those you are close to. Take time out each day to indulge in something you enjoy doing- even if it is just being alone on a walk. Exercise, social interaction and working on a hobby are all great stress reducers. If you have been feeling helpless, depressed or that your stressor has trapped you and you feel there is no way out, it is time to seek the help of a counsellor and your primary care provider. Counselling along with a complete physical can provide answers. Chronic stress raises blood sugar, which can be the start of diabetes. High blood sugar causes emotional instability and depression. Be sure to keep yu annual physical appointments. If your physical health is in good shape, your care provider may suggest medication along with counselling until you are able to resolve the chronic stress, either by learning healthy ways to cope or removing yourself from it.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

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The Silent Killer (Part 3)

5 Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally

The silent killer, aka hypertension can be controlled, even prevented by making some simple lifestyle changes. Below are some of the most effective ways to increase your health while decreasing your blood pressure.  This may reduce or eliminate your need for medication, along with reducing your r

  1. Nutrition

 

There are many nutritional approaches to reduce blood pressure, probably the most famous, is the DASH diet (Dietary approaches to stop hypertension) promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood institute, a branch of the National Institute of health, this diet plan has a proven track record of lowering blood pressure. According to the NHLBI website:

“The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. This plan recommends:

  • Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
  • Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets
  • When combined with a low sodium diet, the DASH diet was even more effective at lowering blood pressure. For more information on the Dash diet, check our this website.
  • Add citrus, especially grapefruits, lemons, limes, and oranges. They also fight cancer. A recent study revealed that when grapefruit and beetroot juice are combined, they provide a synergistic effect on systolic (top number, when blood is pumped through the system) which lowered blood pressure. Beetroot juice contains nitrites, Nitrites are widely known to relax blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure. Grapefruit juice contains an ingredient that allows nitrite to be more available for the body in a complex process that inhibits reoxidation of nitrite to nitrate.

2. Lose weight, if needed

Being overweight puts you at a substantially higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and especially hypertension.

Portion size and calorie reduction are effective weight loss strategies. In addition, there are many online and in person programs that can help with your weight loss journey. Some popular ones are:

  • Noom- This is an online interactive weight loss program that deals with psychology of eating along with health food choices. It is highly rated (9.8/10)and has earned the top weight loss plan off 2023 by
  • Weight watchers has in person and online programs. This time-tested program is still effective and popular.
  • Premade delivered to your door meals. Premade delivered meals have blossomed into a very popular way to combine the convenience of healthy foods with portion control. Meal delivery services offer diet and heart healthy menus. Some of the more popular meal delivery services are Factor, Hello Fresh, and Nutri System.

3. Get a dog – or any pet

Spending time with a pet, whether is a dog, cat or any other animal can help alleviate stress (one leading cause of hypertension) and promote improved mental wellbeing.

4. Community involvement

Being part of an active community has proven health benefits, including lower blood pressure, increased heart, and emotional health.

Friends, family, neighbors, social clubs, volunteer, and religious communities can offer the connectiveness and belonging, bringing meaning to our lives. Having a strong support system- having someone to call when in need- alleviates stress, which in turn lowers blood pressure.

5. Breathe – and meditate

 One of the most underrated ways to reduce blood pressure that is free and anyone can do are breathing and meditation exercises.

  • A study done out of University of Colorado, Boulder revealed that a 5 minute, 6 days a week breathing program lowered systolic blood pressure by 9mm hg, This technique, called High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) was originated in the 1980s way to help critically ill respiratory disease patients strengthen their diaphragm and other inspiratory (breathing) muscles, IMST involves inhaling vigorously through a hand-held device which provides resistance. Imagine sucking hard through a tube that sucks back. In addition to lowered blood pressure, this 30-breath technique could also improve cognitive function as well.
  • Meditate- 20 minutes once a day has also been a time honored and proven method to improve both systolic and diastolic blood pressure markers. Mindfulness based meditation , has been shown to have a temporary effect on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

In addition, people that practice meditation-prayer on a daily basis are less likely to need blood pressure medication.

Along with the above recommendations, getting a good night’s sleep, limiting (less than 1 drink for women, 2 drinks for men per day) alcohol and stopping smoking (known to raise blood pressure) are all natural  ways to help control blood pressure.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

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