February is American Heart Month! During this COVID-19 pandemic, you may have heard the term “long COVID” and it’s long-term effects on many organs–most importantly on the cardiovascular system. Here are some tips on how we may be able to support and promote overall cardiovascular health especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Symptoms of long COVID related to the cardiovascular system can include fatigue, exercise intolerance, getting more easily winded with activity, palpitations, lightheadedness, and chest discomfort.
So what does our Integrative Cardiologist Dr. Tao recommend? The overarching theme in COVID-related heart disease, as well as of heart disease in general, is to reduce excessive inflammation. Fortunately we have many natural ways to reduce inflammation as well as to enhance practices that support repair and restoration of heart and whole body health. We can achieve this in a number of ways:
Proper nutrition is essential to heart health
- Eat the rainbow! Fill your plate with organic vegetables and 1-2 daily servings of organic fruit. Fruits and vegetables are filled with polyphenols and fiber, which help to combat the effects of inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Plant and animal sources of high quality protein
- Organic plant sources include: beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts, tofu
- Animal sources include: grass-fed beef, wild-caught small fish, free-range poultry and organic eggs.
- Fiber-rich foods like: whole grains, leafy vegetables, and legumes. Please work with a nutrition coach to determine the right amount and type of fiber for you.
- Minimize your intake of inflammatory foods eg. fried and char broiled foods, refined sugar, processed meats and other foods, certain oils/fats, etc.
- Stay hydrated! For most individuals, the daily fluid intake (in ounces) should be about ½ of your body weight (pounds). 1 fluid oz = 0.03 L = 30ml. For example, a 150 lbs person should drink about 75 oz (or 2.2 L) of fluids daily. With increased activity and sweating, you can add 12 ounces of water to your daily total for every 30 minutes that you work out.
Regular Movement to keep the heart strong and the blood flowing!
Speak to your provider about the right amount of movement for you!
Stress reduction practices
Stress increases the sympathetic nervous system “breakdown” of our body systems and negatively affects our blood pressure, blood vessels and blood clotting. Effective stress reduction include:
- Breathing exercises. Dr. Tao’s favorite is Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique.
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Gratitude journaling
Treatment modalities that increase parasympathetic tone can also help.
- Reiki. Our reiki master, Sarah, has had excellent success with Reiki sessions for healing.
- Tapping. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), or “tapping”, is a practice that combines cognitive therapy with stimulation of acupressure points. Stephanie, our Energetic Health Consultant has had wonderful success with adding this practice with our patients on their healing journeys.
Minimize exposure to toxins
While we can’t completely control our external environment, we can incorporate some simple lifestyle changes that help mitigate our exposure and support our detoxification systems.
- Do eat organic whenever possible.
- Filter your water that you drink, as well as the water you cook with.
- Filtering your indoor air is also crucial. A high quality high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that also filters out volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is recommended.
- Sweat removes many harmful toxins. Exercise as well as saunas support the body’s detoxification processes and heart health. Consult your medical professional as to what is safe for you to do.
- In addition to the typical lipid panel, we use an expanded heart panel that includes inflammatory markers that tell us a detailed story of each person’s heart health risks,
- We also check a broad nutrient panel critical for heart health and repair. We also measure other stressors on the person, eg. low grade chronic infections, toxin load, hormonal imbalance, gut dysfunction etc..
- In some, we also perform genetic analyses to assess an individual’s gene susceptibilities.
Supplements we recommend to help support heart health and repair*
- Omega Benefit contains omega-3 fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory and contribute to reducing cardiovascular events in many.
- Vitamin C not only supports the immune system, but it also helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system.
- CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that lowers inflammation and can improve heart health.
- Others include provider-guided personalized nutrients (e.g. targeted vitamins, minerals, herbals, antioxidants, etc.) based on your clinical status as well as comprehensive testing results.
- For many, personalized gut support is critical as a lot of inflammation starts in our gut!
- Intravenous and/or intramuscular repair nutrients as needed
Need more support?
Our team of integrative practitioners is happy to help you identify the underlying causes of health imbalances, and the best foods and supplements to rebalance your system. Call our office to find out more: 212-989-9828.
- Petersen EL, Gobling A, Adam G, et al. Multi-organ assessment in mainly non-hospitalized individuals after SARS-CoV-2 infection: The Hamburg City Health Study COVID programme. Eur Heart J. 2021;0:1-14. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehab914
- Zujko ME, Waśkiewicz A, Witkowska AM, et al. Dietary total antioxidant capacity and dietary polyphenol intake and prevalence of metabolic syndrome in Polish adults: a nationwide study. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018; 7487816. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/7487816
- Soliman GA. Dietary fiber, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. Nutrients. 2019; 11(5):1155. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11051155
- Bach D, Groesbeck G, Stapleton P, Sims R, Blickheuser K, Church D. Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) improves multiple physiological markers of health. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019;24:2515690X18823691. doi: 10.1177/2515690X18823691
- Laukkanen JA, Laukkanen T, Kunutsor SK. Cardiovascular and other health benefits of sauna bathing: A review of the evidence. Mayo Clin Proc. 2018;93(8):1111-1121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.04.008
- Elagizi A, Lavie CJ, O’Keefe E, Marshall K, O’Keefe JH, Milani RV. An update on omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular health. Nutrients. 2021;13(1):204. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13010204
- Morelli MB, Gambardella J, Casellanos V, Trimarco V, Santulli G. Vitamin C and cardiovascular disease: an update. Antioxidants. 2020;9:1227. doi:10.3390/antiox9121227
- Zozina VI, Covantev S, Goroshko OA, Krasnykh, Kykes VG. Coenzyme Q10 in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases: current state of the problem. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2018;14:164-174. Doi: 10.2174/1573403X14666180416115428
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat or cure any disease.