Holistic Heart Health

Caring for your heart isn't just watching your diet and exercise. Holistic heart health encompasses a broad array of categories beyond our physical heart (body) including a tender heart (mind/emotio

Mar 12, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Caring for your heart isn't just watching your diet and exercise. Holistic heart health encompasses a broad array of categories beyond our physical heart (body) including a tender heart (mind/emotions), a servant's heart (spirituality) and our community heart (sociality).

Physical Heart Health
Schedule a visit with your primary care physician for a complete physical, including appropriate lab tests, to determine your cardiac risk profile. Cholesterol and homocysteine blood levels can be included in these simple tests. Your physician might also recommend a treadmill stress test or more invasive tests depending on your past cardiac history or present symptoms.

High cholesterol contributes to heart disease and hardening of the arteries. Low fat or Mediterranean diets and exercise will improve your heart's physical health and reduce cholesterol. In some individuals, prescription medications might be necessary to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. In others, dietary supplements might be appropriate when taken with the advice and consent of your physician.

Cholesterol-lowering foods include one ounce of dark chocolate daily, 25 grams of soy protein daily, fiber (oatmeal, walnuts, bran, beans), artichokes and 1/2 teaspoonful cinnamon daily.

Margarines including Benecol, Benecol Light, Take Control and Smart Balance as well as proprietary fiber containing products (Benefiber, Metamucil) might help lower cholesterol when used according to label directions. With these proprietary products, it's important to consume enough water each day to prevent constipation and intestinal obstruction.

After you're cleared by your physician, consider adding 30 minutes of aerobic exercise to your regimen at least five days of the week. This will improve the strength of your heart in pumping blood and oxygen to all of your body. Exercise improves breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and our sense of well-being.

Mind/Emotional Health
It's important to keep a positive attitude and thoughts, because our emotions follow our thoughts. Start with a self-care assessment to better determine your unique triggers for stress, anxiety and depression.

Find a list of affirming statements and tape them to your refrigerator door. Read them aloud daily.

Practice deep breathing techniques taught in Yoga to bring yourself into the present when you're sad about the past or anxious about the future.

Perhaps you're a caregiver for a family member and find yourself experiencing compassion fatigue. Perhaps you're a young mother trying to balance home life and work life. Talk with your physician about these feelings. You might find it helpful to keep a diary and journal your feelings so you can look for patterns and triggers.

Consider the positive impact of music and laughter therapy on our emotions. Play your favorite music and find a good comedy when you're feeling blue. Ask your physician to check your folic acid level since 15-40 percent of adults with depression are low in folic acid.

Take a spiritual gifts inventory to better understand your unique God-given strengths. Match them up with natural talents, and you have a winning combination for spiritual health and a renewed sense of contribution.

Sign up for a weekend spiritual retreat such as the Emmaus Walk through Hyde Park Methodist Church. Commune with nature, seek solitude to get in touch with your innermost beliefs and values. Be open to the universe and messages that come to you by divine providence. Learn more about and practice the concept of servant leadership (i.e., great leaders are servants first).

Consider adding prayer to your daily health routine. Prayer is a powerful tool in health and healing. If you're comfortable so doing, invite close friends and family to pray with you and for you on a regular basis, not just in times of need.

Social support and positive attitude are strong predictors for heart health. Volunteering in the community helps each of us to give back and say "thank you" for all our blessings.

Sacrificial giving is a blessing to you as well as the recipient of your time and talents. What legacy will you leave to your community?

Health-conscious individuals seek to evolve in each of the four categories of heart health discussed above. Today is the best day to start a holistic health plan tailored just for you. Consider contacting your holistic clinical pharmacist to schedule a personalized consultation and fill your heart with love and health. Blessings!

CATHY CREGER ROSENBAUM is a holistic clinical pharmacist. Contact her via www.rxintegrativesolutions.com.