What a beautiful month to honor our precious heart both physically and emotionally!
Not only is this a good time to remember to care for your cardiovascular system that keeps your blood flowing but also a reminder to love more boldly and expansively.
Many of you may consider February a “hallmark” holiday month but I personally embrace the idea of spreading more love. This month gives us all pause to reflect upon the love we have and the love we bring into our lives. We may associate this with only romantic love but that is only a piece of the abundant love we all have within us to share. We are a collective love and if we can all be reminded of that, even if it is once a year, then this will create more positive energy within us and throughout our communities.
Our heart is the emotional center of our soul where we feel abundant emotions and powerful energy, both emotional and physical. This powerful center of emotion and strength resides in each of us and is always accessible. This powerhouse can serve as a gatekeeper of positive or negative energy, which is always your choice.
One of my favorite quotes from my father was “Carrie, you are in complete control of how you feel and how you react, no one can make you feel a certain way “
So, what do you choose?
When you choose to shut down and embrace anger and fear, your energetic system will respond negatively as well and as a result, your cells become disorganized and scattered which is not a good thing. Instead you can choose love!
Love is also about forgiveness, vulnerability, (for others but especially for ourselves). Opening your heart takes vulnerability and that is hard, I know. Brene Brown, a researcher who has studied vulnerability has a lot of amazing things to share about her research and if you have not watched her Ted Talk or read her book Daring Greatly, I highly recommend them.
Ideas for invoking more love to create more abundance in health and in your life
Bring in more Joy and avoid catastrophizing and controlling your life to avoid collapse and fear
Practice Gratitude daily and give thanks for your life and this opportunity to be human and for having creative experiences
Say daily that you are enough, you are strong, powerful and creative
When our heart center of energy is closed off, this can unfortunately perpetuate disease (Dis- Ease) so when we choose love we choose a healthier way of living. Caring for your own health can also be a sign of love for yourself but also for those you love.
Disease of the heart and cardiovascular system can wreak havoc on not only your life and health but also to those you love and who love you.
There are many diseases of the heart, but I will focus specifically on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). There are several areas in the cardiovascular system that can become diseased including; Coronary Artery Disease which is a disease of the arteries that feed the heart, Carotid Artery Disease which is a disease of the arteries that are in the neck and feed the brain, Peripheral Artery Disease which is a disease of the arteries in the legs, arms, pelvis and Chronic Kidney Disease which is a disease of the arteries that feed the renal arteries. All of these areas can develop plaque, which can cause blockages and therefore lead to a lack of blood flow to the area causing issues like a Myocardial Infarction “Heart Attack” or Stroke.
Statistics on Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of morbidity and mortality in the US
1 in every 3 deaths in the US is related to CVD
About 2,300 Americans die of CVD each day—one every 38 seconds
720,000 Americans per year will have a heart attack for the first time
Nearly half of all heart attack patients are found to have no prior risk that would indicate they are heading toward an attack
The five major risk factors of CVD are hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, smoking and obesity and they can be modifiable with lifestyle changes.
There is a great “Myth” out there that all elevated cholesterol is bad and is the root of heart disease when in fact it has more to do with arterial inflammation and injury that are the real root of the issue.
Atherosclerosis begins when the injured artery wall creates chemical signals that cause certain types of white blood cells (monocytes and T cells) to attach to the wall of the artery. These cells move into the wall of the artery. There they are transformed into foam cells, which collect cholesterol and other fatty materials and trigger growth of smooth muscle cells in the artery wall. In time, these fat-laden foam cells accumulate. They form patchy deposits (atheromas, also called plaques) covered with a fibrous cap in the lining of the artery wall.
When damage to the arterial system occurs, this plaque can form which is made up of fats, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood. When the plaque “breaks off” this can cause occlusion in the arteries which will then obstruct blood flow and cause an event, like a heart attack or stroke. The leading causes of injury and inflammation to the arterial system is diabetes and insulin resistance (too many sugars), hypertension, abnormal lipids, smoking, obesity (poor diet), low consumption of fruits and vegetables, toxins, chemicals, heavy metals, bacterial and viral infections (like Chlamydia Pneumoniae and Cytomegalovirus), dental infections and lack of physical activity.
When it comes to the cholesterol, we now know that it’s not the amount of cholesterol that is the main risk factor for heart disease, rather it’s the number of cholesterol-carrying LDL particles. Oxidized LDL can also be a greater risk factor for heart disease. When oxidative stress is high due to poor diet, insufficient exercise and chronic stress, or when your antioxidant capacity is low (again usually because of a poor diet), then oxidative damage can occur. Oxidized LDL is more harmful than normal non-oxidized LDL because it’s smaller and denser. This allows it to penetrate the lining of your arteries, where it will stimulate plaque formation associated with heart disease. Therefore, when testing lipids you want to do an advanced panel that looks at the number of LDL particles because the more you have the more likely some will be oxidized. It is important to add inflammatory markers when testing as well. A few of the key markers to run are; a High Sensitivity C Reactive Protein (HS-CRP), Myloperoxidase (MPO), Homocysteine and Lipoprotein Phospholipase A2 (LpPLA2 which measures plaque ruptures).
It's worth mentioning here that LDL particle numbers can also indicate poor thyroid function. The T3 hormone (which is the most active form of thyroid hormone) is required to activate the LDL receptor, which is what takes LDL out of the circulation. If you have poor thyroid function or low T3 levels, then your LDL receptor activity will be poor, and you’ll have a higher number of LDL particles. Therefore, evaluating your thyroid hormones are critical in evaluating heart disease.
Blood markers alone are not diagnostic for plaque accumulation, therefore you would also want to have a heart scan assessing for calcifications of the arteries. You can have abnormal lipids but no plaque build up and vice versa.
My recommendation is for everyone to get a heart scan from Front Range Imaging (see below).
If you do indeed have heart disease, when treating heart disease you must address all of the possible triggers of “why” starting with the most common and easy to focus on which are diet and exercise.
You need to exercise 7 days per week- at least 60min daily and weights 2x/week.
The biggest dietary source that fuels heart disease (and insulin resistance) is sugar! (including refined carbohydrates)
Eating foods high in sugar, refined starches, transfats or polysaturated fats, high in vegetable oils and GMO foods are some of the biggest triggers of inflammation.
There is a myth out there that we need to eat less fat, but really it's the type of fat that is important.
Fact: Saturated fats and trans fatty acids or hydrogenated vegetable oil are bad because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease so increase good fats.
Fact: A “fat-free” label doesn't mean you can eat all you want without consequences to your waistline. Many “fat-free” foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories.
Fact: Where you carry your fat matters. The health risks are greater if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen, as opposed to your hips and thighs. A lot of belly fat is stored deep below the skin surrounding the abdominal organs and liver, and is closely linked to insulin resistance and diabetes
For heart disease my recommendation is to eat a Mediterranean Organic, GMO free diet. The Mediterranean Diet is the most studied diet for heart health and has been proven to reduce heart disease risk. This diet replaces saturated and trans fatty acids with mono and polyunsaturated fats, while increasing Omega 3 fatty acids and consuming more plant sterols, viscous fiber, vegetables, low glycemic fruits and nuts.
Many people prefer a Vegan diet which is amazing for your health but very tricky to do correctly so you would want to resource a nutritionist if you choose this route.
Avoid Saturated Fats, you can do this based on appearance as saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature (think of butter, shortening or lard), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (think of olive or avocado oil).
Go for lean cuts of meat, and stick to white meat, which has less saturated fat.
Keep beef at 2x/week and lamb/bison are great red meat alternatives (a recent study found that certain people have an allergy to red meat which can increase your risk of atherosclerosis- see link to article below).
Bake, broil, or grill instead of frying.
Remove the skin from chicken and trim as much fat off of meat as possible before cooking.
Avoid breaded meats and vegetables and deep-fried food.
If you must eat dairy, choose low-fat milk and lower-fat cheeses like mozzarella whenever possible; enjoy full-fat dairy in moderation.
Eat omega-3 fats every day and good sources include; fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, GMO free soybean oil (Please avoid Tuna and other large fish as they contain mercury. You can look at mercury contents in foods at the EWG.org or the CDC website).
Avoid complex carbs and avoid all refined and simple carbs such as white starches in bread and potatoes.
Eat a diet high in viscous and soluble fiber (from oats, barley, B-glucans, psyllium, pectin, guar gum, vegetables like okra and eggplant). Try to get at least 10 grams per day but if possible women should aim for 20-25 grams and men 30-38 grams per day.
Consume fresh organic fruits and vegetables of at least 10 servings per day (ideally 2 -4 servings of fruit and 6 or more of vegetables). Pigmented berries such as blueberries and strawberries are excellent as well as apples, pears and plums (organic of course).
Consume protein in moderate to high amounts (1.5 to 1.8g/kg) daily. To calculate: 0.5-1.8grams x __kg = grams of protein per day (for your kg= take your lb and divide by 2.2=kg (for example 130lb / 2.2=59kg= 59x1gram =59 grams of protein per day)
Achieve ideal body weight, BMI, waist circumference. Ideal body fat for women is less than 22% and less than 16% for men.
Brush teeth twice daily and flossing at least once per day and dental cleanings every 6 months to prevent gum disease.
Toxins and Oxidative Stress
Low antioxidants from a poor diet, abnormal genetics, toxins and heavy metals can lead to oxidative stress causing heart disease. If you have heart disease you should be evaluated for heavy metals. Chelation is a treatment for heavy metals and IV EDTA is an amazing chelator for lead, which tends to be one of the biggest metals I find in my patients. We also know that IV chelation with EDTA can reverse plaque and disease progression.
There are a few articles posted on the P2P portal that are worth a read as well as this link as it associates to EDTA and heart disease.
(IV chelation would require a consultation with Carrie before it can be approved)
Clinical Testing recommended for heart disease
Heavy metal testing
I prefer is both from Doctor’s Data and Quicksilver Scientific
Sleep Apnea Evaluation
I like Colorado Sleep Institute, but different insurance companies may have a preference so check first
Dental care (holistic dentists) – infections in the mouth affect entire body and can cause heart disease
Oxidative stress testing can be done by various labs but I prefer Genova’s NutrEval as it looks for nutritional deficiencies as well as specific markers such as gluthathione, 8 ohdg, Coq10, Vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin E and Lipid Peroxidase levels
EBT Heart Scan ( a Stress Test is NOT a good screening tool or marker for plaque as you have to have 70% occlusion of the arteries for anything to show up and one can still have a MI if less than 70% is occluded if the soft plaque breaks off)
Front Range Imaging is the best! The EBT Heart Scan is only $199 on discount!
Advanced lipid/cholesterol testing
Medication and Nutraceutical intervention
To stabilize plaque there are two drugs that will work and keep your risks of adverse effects low at the same time, both low dose Lipitor and Welchol.
Case study of my patient
53y/o male with a significant family history of heart disease.
This patient had his first heart scan at the age 40 showing a small amount of plaque scored at 109 with elevated lipids/cholesterol. The patient was put on a Statin medication, Simvastatin 40mg daily by a local cardiologist. The patient stayed on this medication therapy for 10 year because his lipid levels were reduced and in a “perfect” ranges.
The patient repeated his heart scan at age 50 and to his surprise his plaque had increased to 500! Over the previous few years the patient was also experiencing severe hormonal changes and was found to have very low Testosterone (hormones are synthesized from cholesterol so you need cholesterol to make them). The patient was put on Welchol, Bergamont, Niacin, Vitamin D with K2, Omega 3’s, Baby Aspirin, Magnesium, Testosterone and has made some minor dietary changes (he was already eating healthy and exercising daily). The patient’s plaque was stable one year later and has been stable in each consecutive year.
Nutraceuticals interventions are very important and can be stand alone treatments or use in combination with the above medications
Red Yeast Rice is a natural Statin (quality of brand matters) and must take with CoQ10
Nicotinic acid (Vitamin B3) will reduce LDL particle Number and increase HDL “good” cholesterol (taken with Baby Aspirin at bedtime can help reduce the flush )
Berberine works on lipids as well as blood glucose and insulin so it adds up to be a great metabolic therapy. (I like a product called CM Core as it has both Berberine and Alpha Lipoic Acid, which is an antioxidant)
Bergamont is a polyphenolic flavonoid that works to balance all lipids and also has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Plant Sterols are phytosterols which are plant based compounds that complete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestine so the total cholesterol and LDL are reduced in the body.
Soluble and Viscous Fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol in your intestines by binding with bile (which contains cholesterol) and therefore dietary cholesterol is reduced because your body excretes it.
Omega 3’s have been shown to reduce triglycerides, reduce inflammation and improve endothelial function in the vessels.
Vitamin D3 with K2 – as Vitamin D releases more calcium into the body you need K2 to help get the calcium out of the arteries and into the bones so please take them together.
Supplements in more detail
Red Yeast Rice
Soluble Vicious Fiber
Omega 3’s (EPA and DHA combined)
The studies have been mixed but generally considered supportive and safe if kept under 4,000mg daily as in some studies over 4,000mg can increase LDL.
Vitamin D3 with K2 (reaching for optimal blood levels of at least 50 -80)
Article on beef allergies
The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
I love each and every one of you and wish for you to have a healthy and abundant life guided by an open and generous heart!
Yours in health, Carrie Ballas
The month of February Specials
20% off Supplements as referenced in letter above
Red Yeast Rice
K2 (or vitamin D with K2)
EDTA IV chelation (only for those pre-approved for chelation)
And don’t forget to breathe! Adding more oxygen in your body is amazing and especially at altitude and during these cold weather months!
Oxygen Therapy is available in the IV suite!
15 min $10
30 min $20
45 min $30
60 min $35