The twenties are the start of your adult life. Whether you are pursuing a higher education or have just started in your career, chances are you have found yourself stressed in ways you never thought possible. With late nights and early mornings, it’s likely that you are beginning to develop poor sleep habits that can follow you throughout your life. Lack of sleep and stress are major risk factors for heart disease:
- According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada “stress can damage your heart health. Sudden intense stress increases the short-term risk of heart attack. Too much stress over a long time (months to years) is called chronic stress. It can also increase the risk of coronary artery disease.”
- According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 43% of men and 55% of women reported trouble going to sleep or staying asleep. Insufficient sleep (short duration and poor quality) is associated with a range of poor health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease.
Now is the time to start focusing on better sleep habits, and ways to combat the inevitable stress you will encounter throughout your life. Try meditation or yoga to de-stress, while supplements that may help include the following:
- Melatonin helps reset the body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps increase total sleep time (the quality of sleep) in people suffering from sleep restriction or altered sleep schedule, such as shift workers and those with jet lag.
- Multi-vitamin with Omega-3 helps to promote heart and brain health.
- Mushrooms provide antioxidants and are used in herbal medicine as an adaptogen to help increase energy and resistance to stress.
Many people have young kids during their thirties, which provides a great opportunity to keep moving while “playing”. Although regular aerobic exercise is ideal, it is often difficult to fit into a schedule of work and taking care of young kids. By going to family play groups, walking or biking with kids it means you are also a positive role model of healthy behaviours for your children. It’s also important to be a role model of heathy nutrition, including supplementation:
- Omega-3 fish oils are important for your heart health and for your child’s overall health.
- Multivitamin for you and for your children.
For many people, it’s during their forties when they start noticing their body is not quite working the way it used to. However, like any machine, if you provide it with the right fuel it can work a lot longer! If you haven’t already, now is the time to take a hard look at your diet, and not necessarily by calorie counting. Instead make sure you are giving your body the best nutrition you can. If you haven’t already, check out the new Health Canada Nutrition Guide. There are a lot of changes from the food circle of the ‘70s & ‘80s or even the rainbow chart you might remember from the ‘90s. The new focus is on eating whole foods; half your plate should be made up of vegetables and fruit, a quarter for protein and a quarter for whole grains.
You may also have some new heart concerns. If after a recent medical check-up, blood tests show you have hyperlipidemia, it means your blood has too many fats in it, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Before starting medication, your doctor may suggest some diet changes such as eating more fibre-rich foods. Certain nutrients such as garlic and omega-3 fish oils can also help balance your lipid levels:
- Omega-3 helps to reduce serum triglycerides and maintain and support cardiovascular health.
- Garlic is used in herbal medicine to help maintain cardiovascular health and to help reduce elevated blood lipid levels in adults. It’s great to cook with, but if you want to have the health benefits every day without the bad breath you can supplement instead.
- A gender specific multivitamin is also a good idea.
“Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Canada for women over the age of 55. Women are more likely to die from heart disease than from any other disease.”
Menopause tends to happen around age 50. Although it is not known why, the risk of developing heart disease increases as women reach menopause. It is believed it may be related to a drop in the hormone estrogen which occurs during menopause. Until about a decade ago, it was thought that hormone therapy could help reduce heart disease risk for menopausal women. Yet it is now known that for some women, hormone therapies can actually increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. Therefore, it is no longer a recommended therapy for heart disease.⁹ Luckily, there are other options:
- A natural solution to hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms without taking hormonal therapy. Herbs such as Black Cohosh and Chaste Tree could be an option.
- Age and gender specific multivitamins. Men and women over 50 require differing nutrients.
- Continue with the high dose Omega-3
Sixties & onwards
Most people during their sixties are moving towards retirement, which allows for less daily work stress. However, sometimes people find themselves home and bored. It is important to get out and about and keep moving. Join a local low-impact aerobics class or join a walking group in your community. This helps with both your active living and social well-being which are both important aspects of heart health.
Many people over the age of 60 are on cholesterol-lowering medications. Statin drugs are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in Canada, and are used to reduce the risk of heart disease.  Unfortunately, about 60% of people taking statin drugs stop their medication because of painful muscle side effects. Recent research concluded that “CoQ10 supplementation may be a promising complementary approach for statin-associated muscle symptoms.”³ If you are going to start or are currently taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug such as Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Pravachol, Crestor or Zocor, you should talk to your doctor about taking CoQ10 as well.
Below are some supplements to explore for continued heart health from age 60 and on:
- Omega -3
- Multivitamin without vitamin K If you are taking a blood thinning medication (such as coumadin) make sure that your multivitamin is vitamin K-free. Vitamin K helps to coagulate our blood, so should not be taken by those who require blood thinning medications.
- CoQ10 is an antioxidant and it helps to support cardiovascular health.
 Heart and Stroke Foundation. Recognizing and Handling Stress. Accessed Jan 27, 2010 at: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/recovery-and-support/emotions-and-feelings/stress
 Chaput JP. et al.(2017). Duration and quality of sleep among Canadians aged 18-79. Statistics Canada Health Reports, Vol. 28, no. 9, pp. 28-33.
 Health Canada. Melatonin – Oral Monograph. Accessed Jan 27, 2020 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=melatonin.oral&lang=eng
 Health Canada. Natural Product Number 80087627. Accessed Jan 28, 2020 at: https://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80087627
 Health Canada. Mushrooms Monograph. Accessed Jan 27, 2020 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=mushrooms.champignons&lang=eng
 Health Canada (2018). Fish Oil Monograph. Accessed Jan 27, 2020 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=fish.oil.huile.poisson&lang=eng
 Health Canada. Garlic – Allium Sativum Monograph. Accessed Jan 27, 2020 at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=garlic_ail&lang=eng
 Public Health Agency of Canada. Are Women at Risk for Heart Disease? Accessed Jan 27, 2020 at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/cardiovascular-disease/women-risk-heart-disease.html
 Health Link BC. Menopause and Perimenopause. Accessed Jan 27, 2020 at: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/hw228763
 Health Canada. Natural Health Product Number 80080885. Accessed Jan 28, 2020 at: https://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80080885
 Hennesst DA. et al. (2016). Health Reports Population health impact of statin treatment in Canada. Accessed Jan 4, 2019 at: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2016001/article/14305-eng.htm
 Rosenson RS. et al. (2017). The Statin-Associated Muscle Symptom Clinical Index (SAMS-CI: Revision for Clinical use, Content Validation, and Inter-rater Reliability. Cadiovasc Drugs Ther.; 31(2): 179–186.