Love Your Heart

February 2nd, 2011 From Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman: Fat Flush Author

The cardio tests and single nutrient your heart shouldn’t be without.

Since February is Heart Health Month, last week I decided to undergo several cardiovascular screenings that included a complete set of heart disease, aneurysm, and stroke tests along with a bone density test. For less than $180, my package included an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to give you a moving picture of the heart—without the ionizing radiation exposure that does damage to the thyroid and other organs.

I like this non-invasive test because it picks up the kinds of subtle heart signals—like arrhythmias (or irregular heartbeats) and congestive heart failure—that women are less likely to survive than men.

Many times these cardio packages are advertised in the paper and can be done locally without going into a doctor’s office. The tests are analyzed by board-certified cardiologists, however, so I felt very confident that I was doing the right thing.

A Quick, Easy Screening
Whether you decide to have a full cardio screening or not, one of the easiest heart tests is to simply measure your waist—and you can do that in the privacy of your own home.

Study after study links belly or visceral fat with a higher risk for heart disease and metabolic syndrome. In fact, new research in Obesity shows that abdominal fat is more dangerous for women than the loss of muscle mass—especially as we grow older.

A Gift to Your Heart
One thing’s for sure.

Both the female and male heart need one particular vitamin that is especially heart protective. Naturally manufactured in the liver and every single cell in your body, coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10 for short) is essential for energy production—and no muscle works as continuously or as hard as your heart.

CoQ10 is absolutely vital to your mitochondria (the powerhouse of every cell). Without this nutrient, your cells aren’t able to convert carbs and fats into the fuel for energy. If you feel too tired to work out regularly, CoQ10 may be exactly what you need

This potent nutrient should be ubiquitous—found everywhere in the body—but it isn’t, sad to say. Significant CoQ10 deficiencies have been found in Americans, due to a multitude of factors. Only a few foods—like organ meats (which we don’t eat anymore) and beef—supply this heart-loving antioxidant.

Not only does production slow with age, but popular cholesterol-lowering statins actually diminish the body’s storage of CoQ10, as do some antidepressants and beta blockers. Don’t take these drugs without also taking CoQ10!

“Women are more vulnerable to this fall-out than men,” says my good friend and renowned cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the former head of the New England Heart Center in Manchester, Connecticut. Belgian scientists link CoQ10 deficits with chronic fatigue and depression, as well as cardiovascular disease.

Because it’s so metabolically active, the heart is particularly at risk from deficiencies of this vital nutrient. Thankfully, your heart also responds well to CoQ10 supplementation.

Even if screenings show no risk of heart disease, I personally recommend that everybody take one 100-300 mg softgel of CoQ10 daily, formulated with heart-friendly vitamin E, for preventive maintenance and anti-aging benefits. Dr. Sinatra suggests up to 150 mg CoQ10 daily for anyone with insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes; up to 240 mg daily for angina, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, mitral valve prolapse, or periodontal disease; and up to 400 mg of CoQ10 for advanced congestive heart failure.

“It is unthinkable for me to practice good cardiology without the help of this nutritional agent,” says Dr. Sinatra, who has been recommending this supplement to his patients since 1986. Both his own clinical experience with irregular heartbeats and other cardiovascular problems common in women and published research confirm how effective CoQ10 supplements are for heart health.

Hundreds of scientific studies show this nutrient combats angina, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease. This essential coenzyme also protects against breast cancer plus malignancies of the brain, colon, esophagus, lungs, kidneys, ovaries, pancreas, prostate, skin, and stomach. CoQ10 can even help prevent pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, relieve headaches among adolescents and teens, and improve physical performance in Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

When it comes to heart disease—a silent killer—you really can’t be too pro-active. If you care about your loved ones and your own heart health, consider CoQ10 your best friend for life.

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