KRON 4 | Chocolate for Your Heart

Atrial fibrillation, also called AFib or AF, is the most common irregular heart rhythm in the United States where 2.7 to 6.1 million Americans are living with this dangerous condition. Here’s AFib explained, the risks, and how this one food affects these abnormal heart beats.

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A normal heart rhythm ejects blood from the heart into the aorta which distributes oxygenated blood to all parts of the body.

What is Atrial Fibrillation? 

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular heart rhythm caused by abnormal electrical signals in the upper chambers of the heart.

AFib is on the rise because the older you are, the greater the risk of developing AFib. Finding effective ways to prevent AFib and identify treatments for AFib is a public health priority.

Typically someone one with AFib has to take a blood-thinner to prevent blood clots from forming and reduce stroke risk. Blood thinners can have dangerous side effects, such as severe bleeding, coughing up blood, bruising without an injury, and dizziness.

High Blood Pressure Link

If you have high blood pressure, AFib needs to be on your radar. People with high blood pressure (which usually occurs with advancing age) accounts for 14% to 22% of AFib cases.

Health Effects from Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation is dangerous. It is a risk factor for:

  • Stroke — 4 to 5 times higher risk compared with people without AFib. Strokes caused by AFib complications tend to be more severe than strokes with other underlying causes.
  • Heart failure AFib decreases coronary blood flow.
  • Cognitive decline and dementia — One gallon of blood goes through your brain every four minutes. If blood flow is impaired such as from AFib, brain function suffers. Persistent AFib decreases blood flow to the brain.
  • Death
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One gallon of blood goes through the brain every 4 minutes.

AFib Symptoms

Some people don’t have any symptoms, but many experience one or more of the following:

    • Irregular heart beat (feels like your heart is skipping beats)
    • Heart palpitations (racing, fluttering, or pounding)
    • Lightheadedness
    • Extreme fatigue / discomfort
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain / sweating (mimicking a heart attack)

The Chocolate Study   

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KRON 4 | Arthritis, Hypertension, and Dementia: How this Breathing Exercise May Help

High blood pressure not only damages the arteries in your heart, but also in your brain. It increases your risk for stroke and memory loss later in life along with many other diseases. Here’s how you can improve your brain, heart, and overall health.

Brain-Blood Pressure Link

Your brain is fed by one of the richest networks of blood vessels in your body. When blood vessels are damaged and circulation to the brain is reduced, it can lead to vascular dementia.

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Vascular dementia is the 2nd most common form of dementia.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. (Alzheimer’s is the most common.) You can develop vascular dementia after a stroke when blood flow is blocked and your brain is deprived of oxygen.

Types of Strokes

87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, that is, the stroke is caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. A clot or rupture in the blood vessel is usually the cause. 

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Hemorrhagic strokes result in bleeding within the brain.

13% of all strokes are hemorrhagic strokes which can be more deadly. These kinds of strokes occur when an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks. High blood pressure is typically the cause of this kind of stroke.

Link to Disease

High blood pressure is often at the root of many diseases as well as conditions, such as inflammation. Chronic systemic inflammation plays a key role in chronic disease and pain, such as:

  • Heart disease, diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, cancer
  • Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s
  • Digestive disorders

The Power of the Vagus Nerve   

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How to Persevere (Even When You Really Want to Quit)

Black shoes standing at the road with go on and give up wording.

You set out this year to build new healthy habits. You revised your eating plan, stepped up the exercise, and have been sailing right along. You lost weight! Yay! BUT… today (and last week for that matter) the scale hasn’t budged. It’s not reflecting all your hard work and steady diligence. Your heart sinks. You wonder if all the hard work is worth it.

If this sounds like you, STOP the negative self talk immediately. The devil in your head will cause you to tumble backwards. Remember, the scale doesn’t reflect any changes in your muscle and fat ratios nor do they show the improvements in your heart and brain function, your blood flow, or your arteries — all the things critical to living a long, active and independent life.

Weight Loss

If this isn’t your first weight loss rodeo, focus on “changing your body composition” this time around rather than chasing that elusive number on the scale. That is, work on increasing your muscle mass and trimming the fat. If you’re sticking with your new lifestyle, it will pay off over the long term. Have faith in your efforts.

Aim for small incremental changes because those are the ones that are more likely to stick. Just relax and think about how you feel. Do you feel more energetic, lighter, more comfortable, and hopeful? If so, that’s what really counts.

How to Persevere

I found this great article on Inc.com:  5 Steps to Persevere (Even When You Really Want to Quit) — Practical advice for when your confidence and energy are at its lowestTake a couple of minutes to read it. It may inspire and support you during these times when you are struggling. Keep in mind that as long as you are trying, you are successful.

xo

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KRON 4 | How Exercise and Turmeric Affect Your Arteries

Research shows if you don’t take care of the “inner lining” of your blood vessels, you may be setting yourself up for heart disease or a stroke. Here are some important tips to improve how long and how well your arteries function.  

The Relevance of “Endothelial Dysfunction” 

The inner lining of your blood vessels is called the “endothelium”. Endothelial function declines with age and is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. When the lining fails to function optimally, it’s called “endothelial dysfunction” or ED. Think of a healthy endothelium as being smooth (think Teflon®) where nothing sticks to it.

ED refers to a spectrum of damaging changes that take place in the endothelium, such as the smooth inner lining becomes inflamed and “rough” (think sandpaper) from the constant assaults of substances like sodium, high blood sugar, and cortisol (stress hormone). When the endothelium becomes rough, arterial plaque* sticks to the artery wall (think spackling paste or putty).

*Plaque is fatty, waxy substance made up of materials, such as fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste products from cells, and fibrin (a clotting agent).

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An unhealthy arterial lining can become “rough” like sandpaper and plaque sticks to it.

When Plaque Builds Up and Ruptures

As more plaque deposits build up, your artery narrows and reduces blood flow. This is known as “hardening of the arteries” or atherosclerosis. Plaque not only accumulates in the arteries, it can also rupture and create a blood clot at the ruptured area. Your body sees this rupture as an “injury” and rushes to repair it with platelets (or “thrombocytes”) to rapidly cover up the rupture and form a plug, or clot.

Platelets are very large colorless blood cells (think super glue). They help wounds heal and form blood clots to slow or stop bleeding by clumping and forming plugs in injured blood vessels.

When Plaque Breaks Away

Ruptured plaque can also break away and travel through the blood to other areas in your body and cause a blood clot. If the clot is big enough, it can block the flow of blood to arteries in various organs — e.g., lungs (pulmonary embolism), heart (heart attack), or brain (stroke).

How to Reverse Arterial Aging   

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KRON 4 | How to Make Your Veins Last Longer

Nearly sixty percent of men suffer from varicose veins, so it’s not a common problem for just women and grandmas. Young men are afflicted as well. Here’s how to keep your veins healthy, strong, and functional.

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What are Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins, most commonly appearing in the legs and feet, and they are visible under the surface of the skin. These ballooned veins develop a bluish/brown appearance, but they’re not just a cosmetic concern.

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Varicose veins afflict 60% of men.
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Varicose veins are swollen and gnarled.

The Cause — It’s All About the Valves!

They occur when the valves in your veins do not work properly. Your blood is supposed to flow in ONE direction thanks to many one-way valves in your veins. Your veins have to return blood to your heart — that is, your blood has to flow “upstream”. Once it reaches the heart, it is routed to your lungs to reoxygenate.

Faulty valves cause blood to flow back into the vein and then enlarge and swell. Due to excess pressure on the valves, they get stretched and less elastic (flexible). Depending on the vein, you have 1-13 valves per vein.

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Healthy valves keep the blood running one-way (back up to the heart).
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Valves weaken and blood no longer flows in one direction.

Dangers!   

These ballooned, gnarled veins are not just a cosmetic concern. These weak bulging vessels can rupture and bleed as well as cause swelling and throbbing (mild to moderate pain) which can cut into your daily activities. Worse yet, they can cause dangerous blood clots and skin ulcers (sores).

Legs of old woman with varicose veins.

Symptoms

  • Aching legs 
  • Legs feel heavy (especially after exercise or at night)
  • Swollen ankles
  • Shiny skin discoloration near the varicose veins
  • Red, dry, itchy skin
  • Leg cramps when suddenly standing up

Risk Factors      

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