The heart is one of the hardest working organs in the human body – it supplies blood, and in turn oxygen, to the brain and our other organs – so keeping it healthy is vital for living a long, active life.
One of the biggest heart-related risk factors is a heart attack, which often comes by surprise, when you’re jogging, shoveling snow or lifting weights at the gym.
Surprise heart attacks are often triggered by blood clots, which form when blood becomes thick and flows less freely through the arteries, allowing platelets to clump together to form clots or stick to the sides of arteries in the form of plaque, which can also break free as a clot. (Ref. 1)
Of course, blood’s clotting abilities are necessary – especially so in the event of a cut or injury – but clots that form in arteries or blood vessels have the potential to be fatal.
Blood clotting: 101
When a blood vessel is damaged – such as when we cut ourselves or scrape our skin - messages are sent that trigger platelets to collect where the damage occurred, forming a plug that prevents additional blood from leaking out, beginning the healing process.
The release of platelets triggers a chain reaction of events including signals that generate fibrin strands that become woven with the platelets, creating a net. As the clotting process continues, the net traps more platelets and cells, making the clot stronger.
As your injury heals and the clot is no longer necessary, the body breaks it down. The fibrin strands dissolve and the platelets and cells return to your body’s blood supply. (Ref. 2)
But in some cases, blood clots do harm instead of good.
What can cause clots?
There are a variety of different health problems associated with excessive blood clotting, which is not only a risk factor associated with heart attacks but also can result in a stroke if a clot blocks blood flow to the brain.
- Diabetes. High blood glucose levels can make blood sticky, so it flows less freely through the arteries and instead sticks to the sides in the form of plaque. If that plaque breaks free from the arterial wall, the result is a clot. According to statistics, close to 80 percent of those with diabetes will die of clot-related causes. (Ref. 3)
- Atherosclerosis. Also known as hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis occurs when plaque, cholesterol and triglycerides build up along the walls of the arteries, causing them to stiffen. This results in slower blood flow and creates the risk of plaque breaking free as a clot. Those who are overweight or obese are at a high risk of developing atherosclerosis.
- Vasculitis. This disorder is caused when the body’s immune system attacks blood vessels, causing inflammation and as a result, blood vessel damage. Blood platelets may stick to damaged areas as blood flows, forming clots that have the potential to break free.
- Heart failure. When the heart is weak or damaged, it is unable to pump blood fast enough, which can allow clots to form.
- Atrial fibrillation. This irregular heartbeat can cause blood to pool rather than flow through the chambers of the heart, potentially allowing clots to form.
- Deep vein thrombosis. This disorder occurs when a blood clot forms in the leg, often after sitting for long periods of time. (Ref. 4)
There are a variety of ways to prevent deadly clots from forming.
- Keep diseases linked to blood clots, including diabetes and heart disease, in check by controlling blood glucose levels and exercising regularly.
- Quit smoking.
- Lose weight. Leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, is also linked to the blood clotting process when leptin and the leptin receptor on platelets interact. When we gain wright, leptin levels increase. In the same way excess blood sugar levels lead to insulin resistance, excess leptin generates resistance to the signals sent to leptin receptors, increasing the risk of a blood clot. (Ref. 5)
- Avoid estrogen medications. Synthetic estrogen raises the risk of blood clots, experts say. (Ref. 6)
- Move more. If you’re traveling or spend much of your day sitting at a desk, getting up to stretch or walk around as often as possible can prevent clots associated with deep vein thrombosis.
A supplement that’s heart smart
While diet and exercise can go a long way toward keeping your heart healthy and blood flowing smoothly, including a heart-healthy supplement can support the health and function of the cardiovascular system.
Xtend-Life’s Cardio-Support (click here for more information) features 49 different compounds that work in synergy to help support heart health.
In addition to amino acids that help support the muscles of the heart, Cardio-Support includes the proprietary ingredient Nattozimes, inspired by the fermented soybean natto, a popular Japanese food item that is believed to play a role in supporting heart health. Nattozimes helps maintain normal blood flow, supporting healthy circulation.
Cardio-Support – which can be taken alone or along with Total Balance and Omega 3/DHA Fish Oil - has an enteric coating to protect the nutrients as they pass through the stomach so they are released in the upper intestine, where they can do the most good.