- The former first lady dies from a condition that affects 5.3 million
- Find out what’s ruining your heart health and how to stop it
- Double trouble: Find out how your heart and bone health may be at risk.
On Sunday, America said goodbye to one of its most cherished first ladies — sadly, Nancy Reagan passed away from congestive heart failure at age 94.
For many years, Nancy was an American icon.
She spent time visiting veterans and the elderly and also working with charities during the ’60s and ’70s, when her husband, former President Ronald Reagan, was serving as the governor of California.
After her husband became president, Nancy continued to work with interest groups and became well known for her “Just Say No” anti-drug program.
Later in life, she was often thought of as the epitome of a loyal and supportive wife as she spent a decade at the side of her late husband as he battled Alzheimer’s disease.1
Nancy’s life was truly remarkable.
And while Nancy was fortunate to experience such a long and notable life, this isn’t the case for many who suffer from congestive heart failure.
In reality, congestive heart failure contributes to the deaths of 300,000 people per year.3
In 2009 (the most recent data available), one in nine deaths included heart failure as a contributing cause, and approximately half of all people who experience heart failure die within five years of diagnosis.2
In fact, for those who beat the odds and survive advanced congestive heart failure, there is still a 90 percent chance they may die within the next year.3
But what is even more frightening — over 5.3 million people in America suffer from congestive heart failure. Plus, about 670,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.4,5
And while it’s obvious that congestive heart failure is a dangerous and likely fatal medical condition, its functions are not as obvious.
Today, I am going to explain what causes congestive heart failure and one simple way to help prevent it.
Congestive heart failure, also simply called heart failure, is not a specific disease. Rather, it’s a variety of symptoms that occur when the heart is too weak to pump efficiently.
Because of this weakened pumping, the body cannot receive the proper amounts of oxygen it needs to function. Despite the fact that this condition is called “heart failure,” the heart actually hasn’t quit working. But the slower rate of pumping causes blood pressure to rise.
As the American Heart Association puts it, “Basically, the heart can’t keep up with its workload.”5
In addition to the lack of oxygen to the body, when the flow of blood out of the heart slows due to left-sided heart failure, it in turn causes blood returning to the heart to build up in the veins and creates swelling in body tissues due to right-sided heart failure. This swelling most often occurs in the ankles and legs, but can also occur other parts of the body, like the hands and arms.5
Occasionally, this fluid can cause shortness of breath when it collects in the lungs, particularly when lying down. This swelling can lead to breathing distress if left untreated.6
This infographic from the American Heart Association clearly shows the various types of heart failure.
Causes of heart failure consist of all illnesses that effect heart functions. These include heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, obesity, and atherosclerosis.
While some of these may be household names, atherosclerosis may not be.
Arteries affected by atherosclerosis Photo Credit: menaq7.com
Atherosclerosis is a disease that affects your arteries. Over the years, a plaque made of fat, cholesterol, and calcium can build up in your arteries. This plaque eventually hardens and narrows your arteries, causing blockages to harden and restrict the flow of oxygen to your body.
In fact, atherosclerosis can lead to heart attack and stroke — components of congestive heart failure.
Fortunately, science has found a natural solution for atherosclerosis support. And the best part — it also supports bone health!
K2: The Hearty Vitamin
As it turns out, people with low bone mass are at higher risk for stroke or heart attack, and the inverse is also true — those with undetected heart disease are six times more likely to suffer bone fractures and bone loss.
The reason for this correlation is simple: A vitamin K2 deficiency leads to calcium from supplements and food sources being deposited in arteries instead of bones, where it is most needed.
Dennis Goodman, board-certified cardiologist and director of integrative medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center and author of Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient for Heart and Bone Health, explains:
Vitamin K2 helps calcium bind to the bone mineral matrix, keeping it away from blood vessels. This is important because if unwanted calcium deposits accumulate in the arteries, it can lead to blockages that can contribute to heart attacks and strokes.6
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to get sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 from dietary sources.
Supplementation is the best way to get adequate levels of vitamin K2. However, not just any type of vitamin K2 is best.
There are two forms of vitamin K2 supplements. MK-4, or menatetrenone, has a short half-life and doesn’t maintain consistent levels of vitamin K2.
The other form is MK-7, or menaquinone-7, or its patented name, MenaQ7. This is the long-lasting and effective form.
In addition, if you are taking a calcium supplement, Dr. Goodman recommends switching to a combination of vitamin K2 with vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium.
As always, check with your doctor before starting a supplement.
If you have any vitamin K2 tips, drop me a line! firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing editor, Living Well Daily