By Dr Niamh O’Kennedy, research scientist in cardiovascular health, based at University of Aberdeen
Research published today shows alarming numbers of over 45s are still ill informed about heart health, despite cardiovascular disease remaining a top killer in this age group. Though half consider blood pressure (58%) and cholesterol (47%), many still don’t understand the importance of healthy blood circulation. Only 1 in 10 cited ‘improving blood flow’ as a consideration in heart health, yet it’s the third important pillar of cardiovascular health that people need to be aware of, especially since it deteriorates from as young as 40.
The research, commissioned by Fruitflow®+ Omega-3 (a tomato supplement, scientifically proven to show similar effects on platelets as 75mg aspirin), further reveals:
a staggering 5% (nearly 1.5 million Brits) think that blood flow is consistent and nothing affects it.
They think that if their heart is pumping, their blood must be pumping fine too. Yet there are a surprising number of lifestyle, environmental and hormonal factors that can impact anyones blood flow throughout the day – by making their platelets sticky.
What affects blood circulation?
In our blood are platelets – tiny cell fragments which circulate in their millions. These platelets’ main job is to stick together in case of injury and stem blood loss. But blood platelets can become sticky at other times, which leads to a ‘thickening’ of the blood as growing numbers stick together and to the blood vessels, adding stress to the circulatory system.
This can happen many times a day, if triggered by our lifestyle (poor diet, over or under exercise, stress, smoking, alcohol), environment (pollution, cold weather) and hormones (pregnancy, menopause, menstruation). While we are young and healthy, the body bounces back from these daily stresses quickly, so it’s transient. But as we get older, or if our lifestyle continually causes stress, sticky platelets can persist in our blood for longer. This can speed up development of cardiovascular disease and increase the risk of blood clots forming. And this risk is only increased with age.
Our bodies’ natural cardio-protective systems
Fortunately, our bodies have a system in place to control these sticky blood platelets, producing chemicals which help to keep them circulating smoothly. The most well known of these is nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to calm blood platelets, allowing blood to circulate smoothly, and keeps blood vessels relaxed, helping control blood pressure.
Unfortunately, most people start producing less nitric oxide from the age of 40, and earlier than that if they have consistently high blood sugar, do very little exercise, are overweight, pregnant, or smoke.
Why everyone over 40 should take better care of blood circulation
Though our bodies should be in peak condition throughout our twenties, and even into our early thirties, as we enter our forties it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy weight, we work too much and often experience high levels of stress, and our hormones can start to change from their established patterns.
All of these things affect our platelets – reducing how much nitric oxide we produce and how well our natural cardioprotective systems work. As such, our platelets can become persistently sticky and less resilient to stress which accelerates the development of heart disease, and can increase the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
How to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease over the age of 40
You sow the seeds of cardiovascular disease risk as young as your adolescence and twenties, but they lie dormant while your body is in peak condition, able to resist triggers for inflammation and producing lots of nitric oxide.
In your thirties, this risk is either controlled, if you take the necessary lifestyle steps (diet and exercise) and supplements like Fruitflow®+ Omega-3, or increased with poor lifestyle choices.
In your forties, we will all have some level of reduced cardiovascular health. But how much reduced depends on the lifestyle we led in our twenties, and how we controlled this in our thirties!
After this point, loss of nitric oxide production and generally poorer resilience means that damage will naturally develop without us needing to do anything, but will increase exponentially if we have already created a problem.
Whilst diet and exercise remain key, Fruitflow®+ Omega-3 has been specifically developed to help fill this gap in our natural defences. It’s a completely natural, clinically proven dietary antiplatelet which means it works to smooth the blood platelets, and so help to protect against their hyperactivity and unwanted blood clots. Combining it with omega-3 aims to enhance the heart health benefits of both ingredients.
Visit www.fruitflowplus.com for more information.