Since February is American Heart Month, we’re going to dive into the relationship between heart health and hormones.
You already know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Yet you may not realize the critical role hormones play in your heart’s health. So, where do hormones fit in?
Understanding the Heart-Hormone Connection
Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers and play a pivotal role in regulating cardiovascular functions. They influence your heart rate, blood pressure, and the health of your blood vessels. And when hormones are out of balance, this can directly affect your heart health.
Here’s how it all works:
The Sex hormones — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone — all play a role in having a healthy heart.
Estrogen has a protective effect on the heart. It helps keep arteries flexible, which increases blood flow. Estrogen also reduces the buildup of fatty plaque, and low estrogen can lead to high cholesterol.
Progesterone helps the body use and eliminate fats. It also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which are risks for developing heart disease.
Testosterone needs to be well balanced, as high levels can increase the risk of blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Conversely, low T in men can increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
Thyroid hormones also play a crucial role in heart health. They regulate heart rate, control cholesterol levels, and ensure the heart muscles contract properly. Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can lead to significant heart problems. Hyperthyroidism may cause palpitations and high blood pressure, while hypothyroidism can lead to a slow heart rate, elevated cholesterol, and increased risk of heart disease.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, can affect heart health by increasing blood pressure and blood sugar levels — risk factors for heart disease. Chronic high levels of cortisol can lead to hypertension, high blood sugar, and other factors that increase heart disease risk.
That’s why it’s critical to balance your hormone levels.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy and Your Heart
Balancing hormones with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can be an effective strategy for supporting heart health.
This is particularly important as we age, with the hormonal imbalances that happen during menopause in women and andropause in men.
Bioidentical hormones are designed to chemically match the hormones naturally produced in your body, so they enhance natural hormone production and restore hormones to normal levels.
The heart-healthy benefits of balancing your hormones include:
- keeping arteries flexible and supporting a healthy cholesterol balance
- lowering blood pressure
- reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome
- normalizing thyroid function which regulates heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels
- enhancing the body’s resilience to stress
Our Functional Medicine Approach to Your Heart Health
Our providers take a functional medicine approach with our patients, so we take the time to get to know you and your health. We also use scientific-based labs to uncover the root causes of symptoms and diseases.
When it comes to your heart health, hormones play a major role. However, we run comprehensive lab tests that check:
- hormone levels
- key vitamin levels
- CBC (complete blood count)
- CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel)
- full thyroid check
Your lab panel also includes certain markers that can help identify risk for heart disease. That way, we can take preventive action now.
We want to empower you to understand what is going on with your body as a first step towards better health, prevention, and wellness. We are here to educate you and guide you in the right direction so that you can live a long and healthy life.
What You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Heart Health
Here are key strategies you can use starting today to support a healthy heart:
- Diet and Nutrition: Emphasize foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to support hormonal balance and heart health. Foods high in selenium and iodine, such as Brazil nuts and seaweed, are particularly beneficial for thyroid health.
- Physical Activity: Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, reduce stress levels, and can normalize hormone levels, including thyroid hormones, directly benefiting heart health.
- Stress Management: Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can reduce cortisol levels, protecting the heart.
- Sleep: Prioritizing quality sleep is crucial for hormonal regulation. Lack of sleep is linked to imbalances in cortisol, insulin, and thyroid hormones.
- Supplements and Herbs: Certain supplements, like omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, selenium, and adaptogenic herbs, may support hormonal balance and heart health. We recommend specific supplements for heart health, which you can read about here.
We’re Here for Your Heart — and Every Part of Your Health!
Ready to explore how a functional medicine approach can enhance your heart health? Contact our clinic today to schedule a consultation.
Together, let’s take the first step towards a healthier heart and a balanced hormonal system.
Call us for a complimentary phone consultation at 972-960-4800.