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Aspirin Alternatives for Heart Health

Is Aspirin really good for ALL our hearts?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) just issued new recommendations(1) for taking aspirin to prevent serious medical events like heart attack or stroke.

In short, people who have cardiovascular disease (CVD) or who have already experienced a cardiovascular event should continue aspirin as advised by their doctor.

But the task force now recommends that folks under 60 years old with no history of CVD or cardiovascular events should talk to their doctor before starting aspirin. If you are over 60 and haven’t started taking aspirin as a preventive, the report said, you shouldn’t.

This news may be confusing, so here’s Dr. Juan explaining the aspirin recommendations, along with his opinion as a cardiologist.

Aspirin is just one of many ways to protect your heart. Let’s review some others that can make a world of difference in your short- and long-term health.

Heart-healthy diet

The foundation of your safeguarding diet should include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Lower your sodium intake by limiting processed foods and eating out and use moderation with sweets.

Heart-protecting supplements

Red Yeast Rice, common in traditional Chinese medicine, can be effective in lowering your cholesterol level.(2) It contains monacolin K, a substance used in prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs.

One study found that people who consumed Red Yeast Rice over a month reduced their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 21%.(3)

Resveratrol also helps manage cholesterol. One study found that participants who took 350 mg of resveratrol daily for 6 months saw a 4.5% decrease of LDL cholesterol and an 8.5% increase of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.(4)

Omega 3 fatty-acids can address other risk factors for heart disease. Omega 3s keep your arteries smooth and protect them from damage.(5) They can also reduce your triglycerides,(6) increase HDL cholesterol,(7) and regulate blood pressure.(8)

Hibiscus tea can help you manage your blood pressure. A 2015 review of studies showed that hibiscus tea lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 7.58 mmHg and diastolic by 3.53 mmHg.(9)

Lifestyle

If you smoke, it’s time to say goodbye to that habit for good. Thirty percent of coronary heart disease deaths are attributable to cigarette smoking,(10) and smokers nearly double their chance of experiencing a stroke.(11)

Exercise daily, even just a moderate 30-minute walk, and prioritize sufficient sleep. Keep an eye on your stress level and make sure you have a daily stress-management practice.

Even though the statistics of heart disease are sobering—CVD causes 25% of deaths in the U.S. each year—you can make changes in your life that can significantly reduce your risk. Relax knowing you have a doctor in your corner to help you make the best choices for you and your loved ones.

Let’s get healthier, together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio

 

References 

1. USPSTF Bulletin. October 11, 2021. Task Force Issues Draft Recommendation Statement on Aspirin Use to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease. 
URL:https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/sites/default/files/file/supporting_documents/aspirin-cvd-prevention-final-rec-bulletin.pdf.

2. Huang, C. F., Li, T. C., Lin, C. C., Liu, C. S., Shih, H. C., & Lai, M. M. (2007). Efficacy of Monascus purpureus Went rice on lowering lipid ratios in hypercholesterolemic patients. European journal of cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation : official journal of the European Society of Cardiology, Working Groups on Epidemiology & Prevention and Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Physiology, 14(3), 438–440.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1097/HJR.0b013e32801da137

3. Venero, C. V., Venero, J. V., Wortham, D. C., & Thompson, P. D. (2010). Lipid-lowering efficacy of red yeast rice in a population intolerant to statins. The American journal of cardiology, 105(5), 664–666.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.10.045

4. Tomé-Carneiro, J., Gonzálvez, M., Larrosa, M., García-Almagro, F. J., Avilés-Plaza, F., Parra, S., Yáñez-Gascón, M. J., Ruiz-Ros, J. A., García-Conesa, M. T., Tomás-Barberán, F. A., & Espín, J. C. (2012). Consumption of a grape extract supplement containing resveratrol decreases oxidized LDL and ApoB in patients undergoing primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a triple-blind, 6-month follow-up, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Molecular nutrition & food research, 56(5), 810–821.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201100673 

5. Wang, Q., Liang, X., Wang, L., Lu, X., Huang, J., Cao, J., Li, H., & Gu, D. (2012). Effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on endothelial function: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Atherosclerosis, 221(2), 536–543.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.01.006

6. Cazzola, R., Russo-Volpe, S., Miles, E. A., Rees, D., Banerjee, T., Roynette, C. E., Wells, S. J., Goua, M., Wahle, K. W., Calder, P. C., & Cestaro, B. (2007). Age- and dose-dependent effects of an eicosapentaenoic acid-rich oil on cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects. Atherosclerosis, 193(1), 159–167.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2006.06.008 

7. Bernstein, A. M., Ding, E. L., Willett, W. C., & Rimm, E. B. (2012). A meta-analysis shows that docosahexaenoic acid from algal oil reduces serum triglycerides and increases HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in persons without coronary heart disease. The Journal of nutrition, 142(1), 99–104.
URL: https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.111.148973

8. Jain, A. P., Aggarwal, K. K., & Zhang, P. Y. (2015). Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. European review for medical and pharmacological sciences, 19(3), 441–445.
URL: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25720716/

9. Serban, C., Sahebkar, A., Ursoniu, S., Andrica, F., & Banach, M. (2015). Effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on arterial hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of hypertension, 33(6), 1119–1127.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1097/HJH.0000000000000585

10. Ockene, J., Kristeller, J. L., Goldberg, R., Ockene, I., Merriam, P., Barrett, S., Pekow, P., Hosmer, D., & Gianelly, R. (1992). Smoking cessation and severity of disease: the Coronary Artery Smoking Intervention Study. Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 11(2), 119–126.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1037//0278-6133.11.2.119 

11. Shinton, R., Beevers, G. (1989). Meta-analysis of relation between cigarette smoking and stroke. British Medical Journal 298:789.
URL: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.298.6676.789

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