By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
The healthier your lifestyle, the less your risk of heart failure (HF), the leading cause of hospitalization in women over the age of 65. That’s the conclusion of an analysis of data from more than 80,000 post-menopausal women who provided information to researchers on their lifestyle and subsequent health over an 11-year period. The report was published in a 2014 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Heart failure is a serious, chronic condition in which the heart loses its normal ability to pump blood. About 2.5 million American women are affected, approximately the same incidence as men. Nearly 32,000 die each year, representing 62.6 percent of all HF deaths, according to the Women’s Heart Foundation.
The researchers found that an increasingly healthy lifestyle was strongly associated with a reduced risk of heart failure, even among women without coronary heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension – common heart failure risk factors.
My Viewpoint: Heart failure usually results from coronary artery disease that chokes off oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. Even with considerable progress on the conventional treatment front − emphasizing medication, pacemakers, and defibrillators − heart failure remains one of cardiology’s toughest challenges. The condition can severely erode quality of life. Up to 40 percent of patients die within a year of diagnosis, and 70 percent within 10 years. The new study validates my own clinical observations that improved lifestyle not only reduces risk, but in many cases actually reverses heart failure.
What This Means to You: You don’t have to be a genius to understand that lifestyle affects your overall heart health. Improve your life and increase longevity: shift your routine to a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet; quit smoking (if you currently do); engage in regular regular physical activity; and find ways to be happy and defuse the stress/anger/sadness in your life. My website emphasizes lifestyle choices because they can help prevent or ease the symptoms of heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, and hypertension, as well as the common problem of excess weight.
My Recommendation: Get a handle on stress – it’s a killer and a major factor in heart failure. Cut down on alcohol, processed food, and sugar. Also, supplement with CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10) – a critical nutraceutical for heart health and for aging women. Take a 100 milligram softgel daily with a meal. If you are over 65, or if you have a heart problem, increase to 200-300 milligrams. I also recommend magnesium, carnitine, and D-ribose for anyone with heart failure. Along with CoQ10, these nutrients are so effective that I refer to them as the “awesome foursome.”