Reducing Heart Calcification: An Expert's Guide

Calcium deposits in the arteries are a sign of heart disease or simply of getting older. But what can you do if you're told you have calcified arteries? The first step is to take any medications your doctor has prescribed. This is especially important if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or kidney failure. In addition to medication, there are lifestyle changes that can help reduce heart calcification.

The most important lifestyle change is to exercise and eat a healthy diet. Eating a diet low in cholesterol, fats, and sodium is essential for reducing heart calcification. Whole grains are full of fiber, which helps improve blood cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. They are also high in magnesium and plant sterols, which naturally help reduce plaque build-up in the arteries.

In addition to diet and exercise, it's important to stop smoking and avoid alcohol. Losing weight can also help reduce heart calcification. Studies have shown that both higher coronary artery calcification (CAC) scores and reduced cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) are powerful independent predictors of future cardiovascular events. CAC is a direct measure of coronary atherosclerosis, the cause of most cardiovascular events.

CRF is an estimate of maximum oxygen consumption and a substitute measure of the volume of strokes in heart strokes. Maximum oxygen uptake is the product of cardiac output (heart rate and stroke volume) and the difference in arterial-venous O2.Since the heart rate depends largely on age and the difference in arterial-venous O2 varies little among healthy people, maximum oxygen uptake, and therefore CRF, are indicators of stroke volume and cardiac performance. In addition to lifestyle changes, there are some new treatments that may help reduce heart calcification. A recent study showed that when two plant extracts were added to standard diet, exercise, and lifestyle advice, they improved plaque stability and reduced the size and number of arterial plaques.

During the three-month study period, pine bark and centella asiatica extracts reduced plaque in the carotid artery and decreased the number of plaques compared to a control group.It's important to remember that even a zero CAC score may not override the need to reduce risk in people with high lipid levels or a high total cardiovascular risk. Leaving a gift to the BHF in your will will help fund innovative research on cures and treatments for heart and circulatory diseases.Calcium deposits in the arteries can be a sign of heart disease or simply of getting older. But with lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, and losing weight, you can reduce your risk of heart calcification.

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