Heart disease kills more Australians than any disease, and 12 million carry 3 risk factors for the life-threatening illness. A sobering statistic, but one that should instigate prevention rather than evoke fear. This Heart Health Week to equip us with the information we need as naturally as possible, we hear from leading Australian cardiologist Dr Ross Walker, who believes that maintaining optimum heart health comes down to a holistic approach.
Here are his top five tips for keeping your heart in tip-top shape, naturally:
- Load up on omegas, healthy fats and turmeric: A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, and additionally, reduce inflammation in the body, particularly around the joints. Load up your plate with salmon, walnuts and oils rich in essential fatty acids like flaxseed and hemp. One study conducted in Japan found that curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its distinct yellow colour, significantly improved cardiac health over a three week period and reduced inflammatory lesions in the heart area.
- Supplement with CoQ10: You’ve probably heard about Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10), a naturally occurring antioxidant in your body, but you may not have heard of Ubiquinol, the active (more easily absorbed) form of CoQ10, responsible for providing your cells with energy. Ubiquinol has also been shown to assist in maintaining healthy levels of LDL cholesterol. If you have a predisposition to heart disease, or you are one of the 2.8 million Australians taking statin medication for high LDL cholesterol levels, then speak to your doctor about Ubiquinol supplementation.
- Manage your stress: Many may not know but mental stress affects overall heart health. Many people write off the effects that stress and anxiety can have on our health, but your emotional health should be taken seriously- just as seriously as our physical health. Stress triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can impact your blood pressure and heart rate. Health is both a mental and physical journey, and the two need to coexist if you want to take care of your body.
- Spend time with friends and family: Research has shown that people who maintain healthy friendship networks throughout life actually have a lower risk of heart disease. Reduced stress and anxiety as a result of these relationships plays a significant role in these findings, not to mention the vital happiness chemicals, serotonin, dopamine & oxytocin, released as a consequence of love & bonding. 
- Exercise, daily: A lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for heart disease. Exercise has incredible benefits not only for your weight and mental health, but specifically for your heart. Cardio exercises in particular can lower blood pressure and strengthen your heart, as you slowly increase your cardiovascular endurance. Find something you enjoy, whether it be power-walking, swimming or even dancing, and just aim to move and increase your heart rate for at least 30 minutes, every day if possible.
Speak to your healthcare practitioner to find out which supplement is right for you. Always read the label and use only as directed.