Archives for September 2014

The Best Supplements for Heart Health

Supplements

Living a healthier lifestyle is the best way to prevent or manage heart disease.  But who couldn’t use a little assist?  There is growing evidence that supplements can help you obtain greater cardiovascular health. 

So which ones should you take?  Start with the ones’ that are well researched and have demonstrated benefits for heart health.  Using this approach, I have arrived at the following daily regimen:

  1. Fish Oil – The most recommended supplement for heart health.  Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3s help reduce risk factors for heart disease including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides and inflammation in the body.  Go with a high-quality brand such as Nordic Naturals.
  2. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – This enzyme occurs naturally in the body and helps convert food to energy.  Research shows the CoQ10 helps with heart-related conditions because it improves energy production in cells, prevents blood clot formation, and acts as an antioxidant.  Statins interfere with the production of CoQ10 so if you are on one, you should definitely ask your doctor about supplementing.  Almost a no brainer.
  3. L-Carnitine – Carnitine helps the body turn fat into energy.  It also acts as an antioxidant, fighting those crazy free radicals in your body.  Free radicals damage cells and mess with DNA.  The Mayo clinic has weighed in on this one and found that L-Carnitine can reduce mortality, abnormal heart rhythms and angina development in patients experiencing a heart attack.
  4. D-Ribose – Ribose is a carbohydrate the body uses to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP warrants a post by itself, but in a nutshell, ATP is the fuel for our body.  It’s this fuel is what allows muscles to contract, or in the case of the heart PUMP!  Sounds pretty important to me.
  5. Magnesium – All your organs, but especially your heart, need magnesium to function properly.  Magnesium has been shown to help maintain normal heart rhythms, lower the risk of congestive heart failure, and lower the death rates for those who have already had a heart attack.   Magnesium also helps with sleep, an important contributor to heart health.
  6. Multi-Vitamin – There is growing evidence that Vitamins D and B have heart health benefits.  I take a multi-vitamin from Inspired Nutrition that provides enough of these two vitamins plus a whole slew of heart healthy ingredients such as garlic, green tea, and resveratrol.  The folks at Inspired Nutrition really understand the relationship between nutrients and disease management.  I suggest you check out some of their other products as well.

I truly feel the benefits from these supplements.  I have increased energy levels, am able to exercise more, have less fatigue, have less muscle pain and cramping, and I even get a better nights sleep.

References:

“Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Mayo Clinic review links L-Carnitine to multiple heart health benefits, By Oliver Nieburg+, 23-Apr-2013

Photo credit: veo_ / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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HeartGeek Completes Triathlon

HeartGeek Triathlon

HeartGeek Completes Triathlon

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I survived the Dewey Beach Triathlon.  My family and I travelled down to the beach last Friday evening and met three friends who also made the foolish decision to swim, bike, and run for an ungodly amount of time.

After dinner at the Starboard, we all went back to my friends house and turned in somewhat early.  Nobody slept too well that evening and we all began stirring around sunrise the next morning.  Luckily, the starting line for the event is about five minutes from the house.

The morning was gray and the sea was angry.  Almost 1,000 competitors marched a half mile down the beach just so we could swim back the same distance.  Staring at the swells of the ocean during that walk was somewhat intimidating.

It wasn’t pretty, but I finished the swim.  My biggest obstacle out of the way, it was on to the bike.  This leg was my best and fairly uneventful.  After a quick transition, I was out running.

About a mile into the run, my quads started cramping.  Another runner told me to “stride it out”.  I basically sprinted two blocks and walked one block for the next 2.5 miles.  Funny thing is, it didn’t impact my time too significantly.

I was very happy to finish and was even pleased with my overall time.  Here is the kicker, when looking online at my results, I found out I was penalized.  Officially, the penalty reads “abandonment of equipment”.  I think it really means I dropped an energy bar!

Tri Friends

Time for a new challenge.  What should I do next?

How To Prevent Your Next Heart Attack

planning

During a bike ride last week I was listening to a Tim Ferris interview of Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of WIRED magazine.  Tim is a little smitten with Mr. Kelly, and rightly so.  In fact, he has declared that Kevin Kelly might be the real-life Most Interesting Man in The World.  Listen to the interview(s) and you might agree.

Mr. Impatient and Irreverent

Where am I going with this and how is it related to preventing a heart attack?  At about the 34 minute mark of Part 1, Tim asks Mr. Kelly for advice in regards to optimizing the rest of his life. Mr. Kelly offers some guidance for practically reinventing yourself.  It’s not going to happen over night, so don’t feel impatient.

The advice to not feel impatient struck a chord with me.  Prior to my own death, impatience defined my approach to life.  My attitude towards my own health is a good example.  I knew I needed to quit smoking, exercise, eat better, etc.  The task just seemed too large.  I was stressed out about my unhealthiness, but I lacked the patience to make a plan for change.  The ability to make slow and steady progress towards a goal was not in my DNA.  If it couldn’t happen over night, I would just accept my doomed fate and carry on!

Not a solid approach to managing ones life, but it defined me.  Not only was I impatient, I was irreverent about my life. It could be health, school, work, or even relationships. Big things intimidated me, so I just put my head down and waited to see what would happen.  Even after my heart attack, I didn’t feel changed. I was grateful, but I wasn’t making a plan for the rest of my life.

Back to Mr. Kelly.  About 15 years ago, he had a revelation.  He was going to live his life as if he only had six months left.  The complete story is detailed on a very early episode of This American Life.  He thought is would be a series of high risk flings.  Instead, he spent his time visiting family and taking a bicycle trip across the country.  Family time and a challenge filled with quiet discovery.

Bringing Back Planning

As the interview progresses, Mr. Kelly refers to his friend, Stuart Brand.  Mr. Brand is another interesting guy and is best known for his early role as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog.  Honestly, I had never heard of Mr. Brand or his catalog.  What struck me was the discussion on making plans for your life in 5-year chunks or “projects”

The more time you spend contemplating what you should have done… you lose valuable time planning what you can and will do. – Lil Wayne

You see, Mr. Brand wants to make long-term thinking sexy again.  Did I mention that back in the 1960’s Mr. Brand was one of Ken Kesey’s original LSD fueled Merry Pranksters?  Anyhow, he might be on to something with the five-year plans.  Basically, he believes five years is about the amount of time it takes to identify and execute any meaningful project in your life.

So let’s see, I am an almost 50 year male who survived a cardiac arrest and heart attack and am now living with advanced cardiovascular disease.  How many projects do I have left?

I don’t think of this question in a morbid sense.  I have a second chance. This is my opportunity to plan and hopefully accomplish a few meaningful things with the rest of my life.

So what are my projects (I consider these goals)?  I have one overarching goal right now:  Start an online business.  Over the next week or so, I intend to write out a five-year plan to help me accomplish this goal.

I wanted to share my plan, but I need to learn patience and think through this.  More to come.

Share your five-year plans below.

Photo credit: stargardener / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)