In my last blog post, I discussed heart health and how heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, killing more people each year than all forms of cancer combined. I also detailed supplements and diet recommendations that can help limit your heart disease risk. But how do you know if you are at risk for heart disease? Is there anything that chiropractic can do to help your heart?
Are you at risk?
There are a number of factors that lead to heart disease, some we can control, and some we can not. The factors that are out of are control include genetics, age and sex. Unfortuately, if you have a family member that has had heart issues, you are genetically predisposed to heart disease, meaning you are more likely to have issues with your heart than someone who does not have a family history of heart disease.
The risk of heart disease also increases as we age. Four out of every five people age 65 or older suffer from some form of heart disease. Our risk of stroke also doubles every decade after we turn 55. Although men and women are just as likely to have heart issues, women usually are diagnosed ten years later than men.
We can’t do anything to change our genetics or our age, but there are still many risk factors that we can help eliminate. Smoking has been shown to double our risk of heart attack, as well as increasing our probability of having a stroke. For women who smoke and take birth control, the stroke probability is magnified.
High cholesterol and elevated blood pressure are two other controllable risk factors. When looking at cholesterol, LDLs, or bad cholesterol, should be below 100. HDLs, or good cholesterol should be over 50 and triglyerides should be below 150. High blood pressure is defined as being above 140/90, however I recommend that we should aim to keep it closer to 120/80. My last blog post discussed ways to help lower blood pressure and cholestrol.
How can chiropractic help?
A study in 2007 published in the Journal of Human Hypertension showed that chiropractic care can help lower your blood pressure. In the study, patients with hypertension were divided into two categories, one that would receive chiropratic care and one that would not. After six weeks, it was determined that the group that received chiropractic care lowered their blood pressure by an average of 14/8. This was comparable to the decrease expected when taking a combination of two seperate medications.
But how is this possible? How can a spinal adjustment affect the heart and blood pressure? As chiropractors, we believe that the nervous system controls everything that happens in our bodies. The brain sends messages through the spinal cord, and then out through our spinal nerves to every other part of our body. Therefore, if our spine is misaligned, it can not only cause neck or back pain, but it can also limit the messages that are being sent from the brain to other parts of our body.
By correcting these misalignments, we are able to allow these messages to be sent properly. In the case of this study, the misalignment was causing an issue in regulating blood pressure. However, misalignments can also lead to issues with digestion, breathing and other ailments not usually associated with chiropractic care. Remember to always inform your chiropractor about any issues with your health, we may be able to help you with a lot more than just back pain.