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The Heart and Brain Connection


By Susan Serre RHN


February is Heart Health Month and although seemingly quite different from January’s Mental Health Awareness month, it is really a continuation as the two have much in common (and I’m not talking about the weather!)


Heart disease is still the number one leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. Most people think of heart disease as one condition but it is really a group of conditions which affect the structure and function of the heart such as arrhythmia, angina and coronary artery disease/atherosclerosis (blocked arteries due to plaque build up). According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable thought healthy lifestyle behaviours which include a healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress and not smoking. The same is also true for mental health. Omega 3 fats and EPA are not only beneficial for relieving mild to moderate depression but also for reducing inflammation and improving heart function. Supplementing with B vitamins not only helps your body deal with stress, they lower homocysteine levels which is a factor in the cause of high blood pressure. Magnesium is not only helpful for calming anxiety - it relaxes blood vessels and can help lower blood pressure.


Dr. Dean Ornish, a well known cardiologist
and researcher wrote a book in 1998 called “Love and Survival” and it says that: “people who are depressed and lonely and isolated are 10 times more likely to get sick and die prematurely than those that have a sense of love and connection and community. His program for reversing heart disease, even in severe cases, without the use of cholesterol lowering drugs and surgery, isn’t just about managing stress and changing diet and lifestyle; it’s about creating a sense of community and bringing people together.”


So it seems Heart Health month is situated perfectly in February; following along after Mental Health in January and combining Valentine’s Day (love) and Family Day (connection). Let’s get out there and sow the love and reap the health!