A Guide for Seniors: How to Prevent Heart Disease A better understanding of heart health and new treatments can do a lot to keep our hearts healthy. By Immunocorp Put Your Heart in the Right Place When it comes to wellness, taking care of your heart goes a long way. Longevity, fitness, improved energy, and body composition are all linked to heart health. Your heart plays a vital part in disease prevention and is essential for whole-body health and well-being. Unfortunately, unhealthy diets, smoking, physical inactivity, and chronic stress, put too many people at risk of heart disease. Heart Disease—The #1 Killer in the US Heart disease affects one person every 40 seconds in the United States1—it is a global crisis that adds up to millions of heart attacks every year. Leading cardiologists in the United States, say there is a lot we can do keep our hearts healthy. But is it possible to prevent the majority of the risk of heart attack risk? A better understanding of heart health and new treatments can do a lot to keep our hearts healthy. Modern science has revealed that preventing atherosclerotic plaques from forming, while stabilizing and reversing plaques that already exist, reduce a major cause of heart disease. LDL—Low Density Lipoprotein The impact of cholesterol is absolutely not exaggerated. However, contrary to what most think, the problem isn’t cholesterol itself. It's the low density lipoproteins (LDL) and remnant lipoproteins that carry cholesterol. Lipoproteins are transporters in the circulation carrying cholesterol and triglyceride molecules to destinations where they are needed. We are all born with these lipoproteins, or "bad cholesterol," and it climbs up throughout our life span. When cholesterol–carrying lipoproteins enter artery wall and are then retained and oxidized, immune system components enter the vascular wall and engulf these dysfunctional lipoproteins, and coronary artery disease occurs. The problem is when lipoproteins increase too much, they can penetrate the arterial wall. And there is no question that this can lead to plaque development. Researchers are making advances on this front to reduce overall heart disease. Routine Heart Testing Regular blood testing for blood glucose and lipid profile, including lipoprotein, a check for hypertension, and a monitored EKG can give a comprehensive assessment of heart attack risk. In higher-risk seniors—those with family history of heart disease, it is also important to detect chronic inflammation levels by measuring C-reactive proteins (CRP) through a blood test and measuring apoB blood levels, allow them to further classify their risk. Lifestyle and Diet Preventing heart disease begins with a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating healthy habits, such as exercising ten minutes a day, or doing some weight lifting to tone up muscles reduces total risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating natural (non-processed), low sugary foods out of the garden, reducing bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice as well as saturated fats, increasing consumption of vegetables and foods rich in antioxidants, and eating fish have long-term benefit for the heart. For some seniors, lifestyle isn’t enough to keep their heart disease risk low. Folks with a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol and lipoprotein levels, hypertensive smokers, or diabetics. These people should be prescribed statin drugs to lower their risk of heart attack. PCSK9 Inhibitors Now, there are some particularly complicated people who are unable to reduce their risk of heart disease and require novel therapies. Some of these therapies include PCSK9 inhibitors—a new class of drug that has been shown to dramatically lower LDL cholesterol. Another emerging drug is bempedoic acid. Early clinical trials have shown that this pill prevents cholesterol formation by inhibiting a key enzyme called ATP citrate lyase, and results in a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol2,3. For patients with a history of heart attack and a high hs-CRP level, there is Canakinumab, which in recent clinical trials4, resulted in a significantly lower incidence of recurrent cardiovascular events that placebo. Omega-3 Rich Supplements Traditional medicine doesn’t always talk about supplementation, however, there is evidence that shows that increasing the intake of fish oil, or red ruby oil from Calanus Finmarchicus is associated with a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease and hear failure5. Omega-3 fatty acids help ease vascular inflammation and lower blood pressure, improving blood flow and the delivery of vital nutrients to your cells. Found in great abundance off the coast of Norway in calanus oil, omega-3 fats are essential elements of a healthy diet; however, most seniors don’t consume nearly enough. Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to help combat the development and progression of vascular disease by lowering triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, decreasing inflammation, and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels6,7,8. You should always review supplementation with your health care provider to determine what’s reasonable. We recommend a holistic approach to heart health with a healthy lifestyle—eat healthy foods, exercise, no smoking, and mindfulness, all of which can be enriched with a calanus oil supplement. References https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heart_attack.htm Penson P, McGowan M, Banach M. Evaluating bempedoic acid for the treatment of hyperlipidaemia. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2017;26(2):251-9. Pinkosky SL, Newton RS, Day EA, et al. Liver-specific ATP-citrate lyase inhibition by bempedoic acid decreases LDL-C and attenuates atherosclerosis. Nat Commun. 2016;7:13457. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals Mozaffarian D, Bryson CL, Lemaitre RN, et al. Fish intake and risk of incident heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005;45(12):2015-21. Yokoyama M, Origasa H, Matsuzaki M, et al. Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid on major coronary events in hypercholesterolaemic patients (JELIS): a randomised open-label, blinded endpoint analysis. Lancet.2007;369(9567):1090-8. Shearer GC, Savinova OV, Harris WS. Fish oil -- how does it reduce plasma triglycerides? Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012;1821(5):843-51.