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Top 3 Supplements for Heart Health

With February being Heart Month it’s a great time to look at some supplement options that can keep our heart healthy and reduced our risk of cardiovascular disease. But first lets talk about what is meant by cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease

2021-02-06 10:41:23

heart diseaseomega3cholesterolcoq10blood pressureheart healthgarlic


With February being Heart Month it’s a great time to look at some supplement options that can keep our heart healthy and reduced our risk of cardiovascular disease. But first lets talk about what is meant by cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the name that is used for a group of disorders that affect the heart and blood vessels and include things such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and heart failure. It is the number one cause of death globally, with around 18 million people dying each year or around 31% of all global deaths being caused by the disease(1). 85% of these deaths are due to heart attack and strokes, which are caused by a blockage in the blood vessels that flow to the heart and brain. There are several risk factors which can lead to the development of heart attach and stroke and include things such as being overweight, smoking, having high blood pressure, having high cholesterol, eating a poor diet and having insulin resistance or diabetes(1). Making healthy lifestyle choices can prevent many of these risk factors but there are also some supplements that can have beneficial effects on the heart. 

Here are the top 3 supplements to help keep your heart healthy!

Omega-3

Omega-3 supplements have become a popular choice for many people looking to optimize their health and specifically protect their heart. While there have been some conflicting results in scientific studies around the efficacy of using omega-3’s to protect heart health, more studies are recognizing that some of these inconsistencies may be due to insufficient doses and different sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In a systematic review of double-blind randomized controlled trials using omega-3 use for cardiovascular disease published just last month (Jan 2021), it was noted that doses of omega-3 under 1g showed no cardiovascular benefits, while those using over 2 grams of omega-3 showed statistically significant reduction in cardiac death. Studies that used over 3 grams of omega-3’s showed a statistically significant reduction in stroke, cardiac death and sudden death(2). A meta-analysis published in 2020 also looking at the outcomes of different doses of omega-3 also came to similar conclusions, where high doses of omega-3 fatty acids demonstrated a significant reduction in cardiac death, heart attack and major vascular events. They categorized high dose omega 3 at those studies that used greater than 1 gram of omega-3 (3). Recently the FDA has approved an omega-3 to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in adults with high triglyceride levels in their blood, established cardiovascular disease, and diabetes (3). Talk to your health care provider about what dose may be best for you as there can also be increased risk of bleeding with high dose fish oil supplementation. 

 

Garlic

Garlic is one of the most popular vegetables in the world, which is a good thing given the many health benefits it appears to have, including several that target heart health. Garlic supplementation has shown in the majority of studies to produce significant decreases in total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol. These results were especially evident in subjects that had hypercholesterolemia (4). This was the same pattern seen with the effect of garlic on blood pressure, where garlic had a better response in lowering blood pressure in subjects that had elevated blood pressure compared to healthy subjects(4). Most studies report a decreases around 10-12 points systolic and 6-8 diastolic which is significant as this is similar to many hypertensive medications (5). There have been some studies that have also reported beneficial effects of garlic on fasting blood sugar levels, which is also tightly linked with cardiovascular disease (6). Given that garlic has shown effects on many parameters related to heart health and has minimal to no side effects, it would be an easy addition to your heart healthy routine. 

 

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 or ubiqinone, is a fat soluble substance that is important in the production of energy in the body. Because of this it is found in the highest amounts within the tissue in the body that require the highest amounts of energy, the heart, liver, kidneys and brain. In its activated form, ubiquinol, it also acts as a powerful antioxidant which can act to protect the blood vessels and other cells against oxidative damage. While it has a variety of uses, its role in cardiovascular health is the one that has perhaps been most popular. One of its most well known uses is in reducing muscular pain associated with taking statin medications, which are one of the most commonly prescribed medications for patients with high cholesterol. Statin medications not only decrease the bodies production of cholesterol, they also decrease the body’s production of CoQ10. Given its role in energy production in the body, when levels of CoQ10 are depleted, there are several negative effects, one of which is increasing levels of muscular pain as the muscles have insufficient energy to work properly(7). CoQ10 also has good evidence for use in chronic heart failure, as the heart requires significant amounts of energy to function. There is a reverse correlation between severity of heart failure and CoQ10 levels, where those with the greatest degree of heart failure, had the lowest levels of CoQ10(7).  On top of these very important uses, CoQ10 has also shown to have some benefit in decreasing blood pressure, improving blood cholesterol parameters and helping to stabilize blood sugar(7). Another great option for overall heart health!

 

 

 1.        WHO | About cardiovascular diseases [Internet]. WHO. World Health Organization; [cited 2021 Feb 5]. Available from: https://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/about_cvd/en/

2.         Rizos EC, Markozannes G, Tsapas A, Mantzoros CS, Ntzani EE. Omega-3 supplementation and cardiovascular disease: formulation-based systematic review and meta-analysis with trial sequential analysis. Heart. 2021 Jan;107(2):150–8. 

3.         Lombardi M, Chiabrando JG, Vescovo GM, Bressi E, Del Buono MG, Carbone S, et al. Impact of Different Doses of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cardiovascular Outcomes: a Pairwise and Network Meta-analysis. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2020 Jul 16;22(9):45. 

4.         Schwingshackl L, Missbach B, Hoffmann G. An umbrella review of garlic intake and risk of cardiovascular disease. Phytomedicine. 2016 Oct 15;23(11):1127–33. 

5.         Stabler SN, Tejani AM, Huynh F, Fowkes C. Garlic for the prevention of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in hypertensive patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Aug 15;(8):CD007653.

6.         Shabani E, Sayemiri K, Mohammadpour M. The effect of garlic on lipid profile and glucose parameters in diabetic patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Prim Care Diabetes. 2019 Feb 1;13(1):28–42. 

7.         Ayers J, Cook J, Koenig RA, Sisson EM, Dixon DL. Recent Developments in the Role of Coenzyme Q10 for Coronary Heart Disease: a Systematic Review. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2018 May 16;20(6):29.


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