Heart disease continues to be the number one killer of men and women in this country and claims more than 400,000 lives each year.   It is also one of the most preventable diseases and half of the deaths could be averted by simple lifestyle changes that support natural heart health.

According to the American Heart Association, the most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, a condition in which sticky plaque builds up in the arteries. This decreases the flow of oxygen and essential nutrients to the heart muscle. If left untreated, coronary artery disease can lead to a heart attack.

Researchers cite “unhealthy behaviors” and “unhealthy environments” as major contributors to the heart disease epidemic in this country. While some risk factors, such as age and heredity cannot be controlled, there are many factors that can be controlled such as stress, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary habits According to the American Heart Association, 23 percent of men and 18.1 percent of women smoke, despite volumes of definitive evidence linking smoking to heart disease and cancer. More than 67% of adults are overweight which puts them at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.  It is estimated that 33.5% of adults over the age of 20 have high blood pressure and less than half have it under control.

As with most diseases, prevention is the best line of defense and there are many natural solutions that support good cardiovascular health. Some of them include:

A Healthy Diet: This is one of your best lines of defense against heart disease. Select foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients.  Eating a diet that contains vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, fish and fat-free dairy products will go a long way toward keeping your heart functioning properly.

Get Moving: The excuses for not exercising are plentiful but the king of them all is “I don’t have time.” If that is the excuse that you have been using, it isn’t valid. Even if you think you can’t squeeze a 45 minute workout into your schedule there are steps you can take to vastly improve your physical fitness level. Experts now say that you can get your exercise in “bits and pieces” such as ten minute intervals three or four times a day. In fact, recent studies have found that short bouts of exercise can help reduce your risk of heart disease in much the same way that longer workouts can.

Manage Stress: Many studies have confirmed a definitive link between stress and heart disease. Negative emotions can create a reaction within the body that causes blood vessels to constrict leading to high blood pressure and other problems. People under stress are also more likely to use alcohol, smoke and overeat.

Don’t Smoke: With the overwhelming body of scientific evidence that links smoking to heart disease, this one is a no-brainer. Cigarette smoke has substantial negative effects on heart, lungs and blood vessels. If you smoke, work with your holistic practitioner to “kick the habit.”

Many people add nutritional supplements to their daily regimen for added protection against heart disease. There are many varieties available through natural health stores. One of the best supplements is NATTO-BP Plus, which is available through the Institute for Vibrant Living. This supplement contains five “super-nutrients” which work together to lower blood pressure, reduce oxidation, eliminate excess fatty acids, relax constricted blood vessels and strengthen capillary action.

Embrace the heart health solutions that are within your control.  A proper diet, exercise and nutritional supplements can enhance your cardiovascular health and put you on the road to a long and vibrant life.