Circulatory System and Heart Health

I know you are probably wondering, why I am explaining the Circulatory System to you. Well I thought this year I would do a series and go through a body system each month and explain how it works and what the major factors are that contribute to chronic health conditions pertaining to that system I feel if we have a basic understanding of our body systems, we would be more conscious of taking care of them and felt this would give us all a better understanding about what we can do to maintain our "Life of Health and Wellness Naturally".

Our circulatory systems are the highway systems of our bodies. The heart, blood, and blood vessels (arteries and veins) are the three major parts that makeup our circulatory system. Our circulatory system is responsible for performing 2 major functions

  • Supplying our cells with a continuous supply of food and oxygen
  • Cleaning and carrying away from our cells carbon dioxide and other major wastes.

Some Heart Facts

The heart is the back bone of our circulatory system work and is responsible for making it work. The heart is a hollow, pear shaped organ and is located between our lungs in the center of our chest. The heart has four chambers, a right and left ventricle and a right and left atria. The right ventricle sends deoxygenated blood to the lungs and the left ventricle delivers blood and nutrients to the other parts of our body. The two atria hold the blood that returns to the heart and at just the right moment they empty the blood into the ventricles. The heart pumps six quarts of blood around our circulatory system highway 500 times a day!

Some Blood Facts

Our bodies hold approximately 1 1/2 gallons of blood. Blood is what carries our food and wastes throughout our circulatory system. Blood not only carries nutrients and oxygen, it also carries hormones, which control body processes and antibodies which fight invading infections. Blood is 55% plasma and 45% blood cells. Of that 45%, red blood cells make up 99% and the other 1% is white blood cells. Our Blood has a lot of responsibilities.

  • Transports oxygen, nutrients, hormones, antibodies etc
  • Maintains the temperature of our bodies
  • Removes toxins from the body
  • Regulates body fluid electrolytes
  • Plays a key role in the clotting process

That's a lot of work for 1 1/2 gallons of blood. I mean think about it - wow!

Some Facts about our Blood Vessels

Blood vessels are small hollow tubes that transport blood throughout our bodies. We have different types of blood vessels. We have arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins. The basic thing to know is that Arteries are thick and muscular blood vessels that carry oxygen rich blood from the heart to the cells and tissues and Veins carry oxygen-poor blood, and waste products back to the heart. The Arterioles branch out from the arteries and transport to the Capillaries. The Venules carry the wastes from the Capillaries back to the veins. This pretty much sums it up.

Problems that affect our Circulatory System

  • Heart Disease - a general term that refers to any disorder or condition of the heart, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, congenital heart disease, disorders of the heart valves, heart infections and heart arrhythmias. With heart disease, we usually do not have any warnings before our first heart attack, because usually in the early stages of Heart disease there are no symptoms. An estimated 1.26 million Americans will have a new or recurrent heart attack this year!
  • Cholesterol - There are two main types of cholesterol, LDL and HDL. LDL transports cholesterol and other fats through our blood vessels from the liver to the different areas of the body like muscles, tissues, and organs. LDL is responsible for providing numerous life sustaining functions. However, too much LDL in our blood vessels can become dangerous, especially if it becomes oxidized (meaning it can react with free radicals) which can cause tissue damage. This is why a high LDL level can increase your risk for a heart attack. HDL also known as the good or happy cholesterol which is what I like to call it, is also produced by the liver to carry LDL cholesterol and other fats from our tissues and organs back to our livers for recycling. High levels of HDL are good because our blood vessels remain clear and we have a higher ability to carry away the bad stuff.
  • Heart Failure - This occurs when the heart can't pump enough blood and oxygen to meet the needs of the body. Unfortunately, there is no cure for heart failure. Once it occurs you will need treatment for the rest of your life. The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is caused by the arteries which supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked. When the blood flow is completely blocked you have a heart attack. Other causes of heart failure include - cardiomyopathy, hypertension, heart valve disease, congenital heart disease, alcoholism and drug abuse.
  • Atherosclerosis - This is caused by an accumulation of cholesterol, calcium, and other minerals on the inside lining of our blood vessels which can over time, clog them. When the vessels become clogged or partially clogged, the body's tissues become starved and could eventually not function or die. This process is also referred to as hardening of the arteries, arteriosclerosis, and arterial plaque buildup. Some of the signs of this condition can be high blood pressure, angina or chest pain, heart attack, poor circulation to the feet and legs, and stroke. Lets face it - Atherosclerosis is not a localized or segmented disease, so do not kid yourself - if your coronary arteries are clogged with this plaque, it probably means that the arteries in your brain, kidneys, lungs, and other vitals organs are in a similar state.

The Good News

All of this can be prevented! Research shows developing healthy habits like the ones listed below will drastically reduce your chance of heart disease.

  • Aim and maintain a healthy weight
  • Consume a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, onions and garlic. (I myself follow the "Eat to Live" Plan)
  • Take good quality supplements
  • Drink more water
  • Eat more fiber
  • Cut out table salt 0if you have to use Sea Salt
  • Exercise Regularly especially walking or aerobics
  • Make sure you get enough sleep (if you lose sleep - you can't make it up)
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce stress

The Journal of the American Medical Association did two studies and reported if you follow any one of the six modifiable healthy lifestyle changes it lowers your lifetime risk of heart disease. The six modifiable healthy lifestyle changes are: maintain a normal body weight, do not smoke, exercise regularly, drink moderate amounts of alcohol, eat plenty of cereals, and eat lots of fruit and veggies.

Hopefully, none of my newsletter subscribers have heart disease, if you do you can still benefit from modifying your lifestyle. For those of us now there yet, lets develop some healthy lifestyle habits and begin by choosing one habit from above and implement it.Remember our circulatory system can not afford to take time off!

There are several herbs and supplements that support a healthy heart or that may help naturally with circulatory system issues. I have listed lots of Nature's Sunshine Products below with a link to scientific data and research on these products. Remember, if you take any prescription medication, it is always best to take your medications alone and consult your doctor before starting any supplemental programs.

You can view several Nature's Sunshine Products that support Heart Health and Healthy Cholesterol Levels.

Written by Laurence Smith - All Rights Reserved