February 2021 is American Heart Health Month. This is a perfect time to discuss the role chiropractic plays in your heart health. Many people may consider that chiropractic treatment is only for remedying problems with the back, neck, etc. However, this is an understatement of the value of chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic treatment addresses all aspects of the body. It includes the muscles, nerves, vital organs, etc. This means heart health is very much a part of chiropractic treatment.
Heart Disease is the Leading Cause of Death in the United States
Heart disease statistics from 2020 are staggering. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports in September of 2020 the following facts of Heart Disease in the United States:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
- About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
- One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
- About 18.2 million adults age 20 and older have Coronary Heart Disease (CAD).
- Roughly 2 in 10 deaths from CAD happen in adults less than 65 years old.
- About 1 in 5 heart attacks is silent — the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.
As you can see from these statistics, in spite of modern medicine, heart disease is on the rise.
Causes of Heart Disease
Before we go into Chiropractic treatment and what it can do for heart disease, let us look at the causes of heart disease. The major causes of heart disease are:
- Overweight and obesity
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
As I covered in our article 5 TIPS to Staying Fit, an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise lead to obesity which in turn can lead to heart disease. Again, people cannot outrun their forks. If you haven’t read this article, I advise you to do so.
How Can Chiropractic Improve Heart Health?
Now, let us look at how Chiropractic can improve heart health. Studies have been conducted on the effect of chiropractic treatments on patients with high blood pressure. In each study, chiropractic adjustments were found to improve the patient’s high blood pressure readings. In one of the clinical trials, covered in an article in WebMD, doctors were amazed at the results. Eight weeks after undergoing the procedure, 25 patients with early-stage high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure than 25 similar patients who underwent a sham chiropractic adjustment. The trial was arranged so that patients were unable to tell which group they were in.
“This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination,” study leader George Bakris, MD, tells WebMD. “And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems.”
How Does Chiropractic Treatment Work?
When your spine is misaligned you usually feel pain in one or more parts of your body. The most common pains felt are neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, foot pain, etc. However, as I mentioned above, everything is connected inside your body. When your spine is misaligned, this means you may also be suffering from pinched nerves. For example, you may have experienced sharp shooting pain in your back, neck, or another part of your body. This is an indicator of a pinched nerve.
Your nerves are your communication channels to the other parts of your body – for example, your vital organs. When the nerve messages are blocked or not working effectively, you inevitably are going to have difficulties with other parts of your body, including your vital organs such as your heart. So, it makes sense that when your spine is aligned correctly, it opens up your nerve channels and improves the overall health of your body.
Also, when you are in pain, you are less likely to get out and exercise. It’s a Catch-22 because the less you exercise the more weight you gain. Also, the more your muscles will weaken and the more pain you will experience. It is a vicious dwindling spiral. But it works the other way too: as chiropractic adjustments free you up from physical pain, the more you will be able to exercise, the stronger you will get and the less pain you will have.
How You Can Improve Your Heart Health
1. Get in to see a chiropractor for your treatment.
If you have any level of heart disease, make sure to tell your chiropractor about it so it can be addressed with your treatment.
2. Stick to your chiropractic treatment plan.
If you have heart trouble, the condition didn’t develop overnight. Be patient and stick with it to get results. If you only get an adjustment once in a while, you cannot expect to get the same result you will get from regular treatments.
3. Exercise, exercise, exercise!
It is not so important how long you exercise at the start. If you haven’t been exercising at all, simply start with walking. I recommend you walk some distance every day. If you cannot walk every day, get out as much as you possibly can. Build up the amount of exercise you do week by week. The important thing is to get your body moving. Caution: don’t overdo your exercise to the point where you injure your body. Otherwise, the pain from the injury can prevent you from exercising. Then you would be back to the vicious cycle.
4. Improve your diet.
We recommend the Paleo Diet as we have seen the best results with this diet. But whatever diet you chose, taking out sweets and highly processed foods will move you in the right direction.
5. Stay hydrated and take the recommended daily dose of electrolytes (non-sugar).
They are important to your heart health because they help regulate the fluid levels in your blood and your body.
6. Get enough sleep at night.
This is the time your body is repairing itself. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your chiropractor.
And of course, if you are under the care of an M.D., follow your M.D.’s instructions as well.
Regular chiropractic treatments and following the above tips can do a great deal to put you on the road to improving your heart health and your life. But again, be patient and stick with it! We live in a fast-paced society. With high-speed computers, we are used to instant results. But how long did it take for your body to get in the condition where you feel the aches and pains of today? It may not change overnight, but working together we can make it better!
Dr. J. Craig Strickland, DC
Carolina Rehab and Physical Medicine Center
1211 48th Ave N
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577