It’s a sobering statistic. Your risk of heart failure could skyrocket by a staggering 40 percent from a seemingly unrelated condition, according to a study presented at the EuroHeartCare conference.
Norwegian researchers discovered a significant link between heart failure and moderate to severe depression in a large 11 year study of nearly 63,000 people.
In a large 11 year study Norwegian researchers collected data on blood pressure levels, physical activity, smoking habits, body mass indexes and depression levels of nearly 63,000 volunteers.
When the data was analyzed the scientists discovered a significant link between heart failure and depression. While folks that were only mildly depressed had an elevated heart failure risk of just 5 percent, those with moderate to severe depression were 40 percent more likely to receive a heart failure diagnosis.
More on that in moment, but first let’s take a quick look at what heart failure actually is.
Symptoms of congestive heart failure
When you have heart failure your heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs.
In some cases this means the chambers of your heart have become think and stiff and as a result are unable to fill up with enough blood. In others it means the heart chambers have become thin and stretched out and can’t manufacture enough force to distribute the blood to where it needs to go.
But in either case it’s, needless to say, a serious condition.
Here’s a nice, easy to follow animated explanation of heart failure. I encourage you take a few minutes to give it a watch, it really does a great job of simplifying what can be a sometimes difficult to understand condition.
Congestive heart failure isn’t curable, it’s a chronic lifelong condition although treatment can help relieve symptoms on many cases. In the most severe cases it can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and may stop responding to treatment and become deadly.
|Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms|
|Unexplained persistant cough|
|Difficult or fast breathing|
|Swollen feet or ankles|
|Fatigue or weakness (feeling faint)|
|Loss of appetite|
|Swelling in your abdomen or liver|
|Frequent urination at night|
|Neck veins that stick out|
|Uneven or fast heartbeat/pulse or feeling your heart beat (heart palpitations)|
|Waking up from sleep with shortness of breath|
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms you should make an appointment with your doctor to have some tests done.
The link between heart failure & depression
Now let’s get back to that link between depression and heart failure.
Anyone who has experienced depression can attest to the fact that taking care of yourself while depressed can feel like a monumental impossible task. But it turns out that the health damaging habits—such as increased smoking and drinking or weight gain—that you often see with depression aren’t responsible for the skyrocketing heart failure risk.
Researchers adjusted for those kinds of factors and the risk remained. It turns out another old enemy is the real culprit, stress and the inflammation that comes with it.
Depression triggers your adrenal glands to begin pumping out the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. As a result your breathing rate goes up, your pulse begins to race, your blood pressure climbs, your blood sugar spikes and chronic widespread inflammation kicks in.
The more depressed you are the more severe your body’s stress reaction will be and the higher your inflammation levels will climb. In other words, the perfect storm for the narrowing and hardening of arteries and, as it turns out, a severely raised risk of congestive heart failure.
In other words, reducing stress and the resulting inflammation is key. And it all starts with lifting your depression.
12 supplements to slash stress, depression & heart failure
Mainstream medicine would pull out the prescription pad at this point. But the truth is—despite those billion dollar ad campaign promises—SSRI antidepressants are often no more effective than a placebo. Plus they come with a long list of troubling side effects.
If you prefer to try a natural approach, there are supplements that can help reverse depression, relieve stress, and support your heart.
1. Vitamin D:
Low vitamin D levels have been shown to be linked to depression. Since vitamin D deficiencies are quite common, especially among older folks, raising your levels might help relieve your blues and ultimately reduce your heart failure risk.
I typically recommended taking up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Check with your doctor about testing your levels to figure out the dosage that’s perfect for you.
2. Vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12, or the “powerhouse” vitamin is involved with energy metabolism and used by literally every single cell in your body. B12 plays a vital role in the normal function of your brain and nervous system, and low levels have been linked to depression. You will find B12 as part of any good quality B-complex supplement.
The B vitamin inositol can help reduce stress and anxiety by helping GABA bind to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. These are the same spots that benzodiazepine, or sedative drugs, bind to.
Inositol will typically be including in a quality B complex vitamin. You can also raise your levels by earing more whole grains, wheat germ, meat, buts, citrus and legumes.
4. Vitamin B6:
Your body requires and adequate supply of vitamin B6 for your mood0linked neurotransmitters—serotonin and norepinephrine—to go to work. Low levels of B6 have been lined to depression. You will find B6 in any good quality B-complex supplement.
The mineral zinc does double duty when it comes to supporting mood. Similar to B6 your body uses this mineral to made important neurotransmitters.
But the mineral also boosts the release of the relaxing and calming neurotransmitter GABA from its receptor sites.
Good natural sources of zinc include red meat, oysters, nuts, beans, poultry, lobster and dairy foods.
Magnesium is another mineral with a GABA connection. Magnesium binds to and triggers GABA receptors. Magnesium deficiencies are quite common and when you run low on this vital vitamin it can lead to anxiety, stress, irritability, attention issues, insomnia, apathy and depression.
Most multivitamin and mineral formulas will contain magnesium, but you can also raise your levels by eating more magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, fish, nuts, beans, seeds, avocados, yogurt, bananas and dark chocolate.
This plant-derive amino acid could help relieve stress and anxiety. Theanine naturally raises your GABA levels. In addition, the amino acid has been shown to help increase alpha brainwaves, the kind of brainwaves that indicate relaxation.
You can raise your theanine levels by drinking more tea.
The bioflavonoid apigenin is found in abundance in the chamomile plant. The herbal extract can help relieve stress and anxiety, literally relaxing blood vessel and smooth muscle fibers. Apigenin has also been proven to fight depression, with a chamomile extract significantly dropping depression scores in all participants in a study.
Try chamomile tea to raise your levels.
Curcumin, found in the spice turmeric is a natural mood lifter. In fact in one study researchers found that the herb relieved serious depression as well as Prozac.
10. Rhodiola rosea (Siberian ginseng):
The Rhodiola rosea plant, also known as Siberian ginseng, can help balance mood and relieve stress. Studies show the herb reduces anxiety, improves mood, and improves the quality of your sleep (a big problem for those suffering with stress from depression)
You may already know that omega-3s—like you find in fish oil—are great for your heart. But it turns out they’re also linked to mood and could help you reverse depression. Plus they’re terrific inflammation fighters which, as I explained earlier, is at the heart of the raised heart failure risk that comes with depression.
Stress raises blood pressure levels and chronically elevated BP contributes to heart issues including congestive heart failure. The long term use of probiotics has been shown to help return blood pressure to normal levels, and keep it there.
Dr. Allan Spreen
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