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Nicole Glassman
Do you feel depressed for no reason? Have you lost your "zest" for life?

Do you suffer from heart palpitations? Are you desperate for a decent night's rest? According to Chinese medicine there are many emotions attached to an organ system.

The list above may describe an imbalance in the heart meridian, but it is also indicative of a possible hormone imbalance. But although there may be emotional factors attached to a heart condition, oftentimes there are very few warning signs. It is important that we learn how to listen to our bodies and to take action against cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease affects the heart, blood vessels and arteries. This disease kills 870,000 Americans each year, and one in four women die from it each year. Early detection is key to preventing this disease, and although there may be few warning signs there are some markers to look for.

1. High blood pressure. This is commonly a precursor to a heart condition.

2. High Cholesterol. Have your cholesterol checked yearly. Although high cholesterol can be a factor of the lifestyle we live, it can also be genetic. High cholesterol and cardiovascular disease are frequently not related, but it is better to be cautious. If your cholesterol is high despite being careful about what you eat, this may be a sign of liver congestion, which can be detoxified through various holistic modalities.

3. Excess Abdominal Fat. This is a key marker in cardiovascular disease.

4. Smoking. The evidence is overwhelming that smoking is a high risk factor for both cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular impairment.

5. Poor Diet. A diet high in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, fried food and sugar can increase your risk.

6. Hypothyroid Disease. Hypothyroid Disease causes abnormalities in the lipid metabolism, which can accelerate cardiovascular disease

7. Bleeding Gums. Bleeding gums can be a sign of a Vitamin C deficiency and/or periodontal disease, which can increase your chances of cardiovascular disease.

8. Genetic history of cardiovascular disease

The clear signs of a heart attack are sudden shortness of breath, pressure in the center of the chest that can radiate down the arm and up the neck, and the feeling of an "elephant" on your chest. So what can you do?

First you need to move your body. Exercise is key to prevention. Try to work out at least 30 minutes a day. This can include a brisk walk or a more strenuous workout, but make sure you work up a sweat. Don't be afraid to start slowly, because your stamina will increase.

Nutrition is also key. Make sure you eliminate or minimize all trans fats and white flour products, including white grains such as white rice and white potatoes. Replace them with foods such as brown rice, oats, millet, quinoa, sweet potato, and squash.

Eliminate sugar. Cut back on or eliminate caffeine. Add in garlic, and onions, which can help to lower cholesterol levels. Increase your consumption of healthy fats, rather than saturated fat. Add in olive oil, nuts (not peanuts), and seeds -- especially flax seed. Increase your consumption of vitamin C. Also add in ginger and omega-3 fatty acids, which have shown signs of reducing the risk for heart disease.

Find outlets for stress. Although a heart condition can be genetic, frequently it is lifestyle-induced. Stress can contribute to inflammation and disease, and it is important to recognize when you need a break.

Establish a healthy bedtime routine. Find ways to unwind from the day. Find people and activities that bring you joy. Journal and express yourself. Find ways to nourish your spirit and your body will return the favor.

Nicole Glassman

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