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Improving Your Heart Health


You’ve heard the expression “listen to your heart” or “follow your heart”, right? But isn’t it the brain that decides what we listen to and what we follow? Considering this month is American Heart Month, we want to highlight the intimate connection between the brain and the heart.

Currently, the GLOBAL leading cause of death is heart disease. Combined, ischemic heart disease and stroke accounted for 15.2 million deaths in 2016 and that number is likely higher in the recent year. It is no surprise that the function of the heart is an extremely important factor in terms of our health and wellbeing. American Heart Month

Without getting into an anatomy lecture, the heart’s main function is to act like a pump, providing a continuous circulation of blood for every part of the body. This circulation is also what provides oxygen for the entire body and removes carbon dioxide by working with the lungs during breathing. You might say, the heart is KIND OF a big deal. Just like every other part of the human body, guess who is the commander in chief of the heart? If you guessed the brain, but more specifically the nervous system, CONGRATULATIONS – You’re correct!

So, how involved is the brain? The heart has over 40,000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn and remember. The pumping mechanism of the heart is controlled by a branch of the nervous system called the Autonomic Nervous System or more easily understood as the body’s aOS. Similarly to an iPhone, the autonomic nervous system is automatically updating, coordinating, and regulating all of the vital functions of the body that we don’t have to think about. One of those vital functions is heart rate. This system regulates the increase or decrease in the speed of the heart depending on what’s happening in the environment. Hiking Pikes Peak, sleeping, running from your neighbors’ dog, and emotions all demand different responses from the heart. The key term for that difference is variability.

Heart rate variability has become a hot topic in today’s health and wellness industry and it’s pretty obvious why. Being “healthy” is not defined by the presence or absence of symptoms. You may have absolutely no signs or symptoms yet have a constant blood pressure reading of 160/80 or may even have a tumor growing inside of you and not know it. You may be an Olympic level athlete who’s never been to the doctor in your life, but one day catch a cold that results in symptoms like cough and fever for a few days. You see where I’m going here? Health is defined by the body’s ability to ADAPT, not by symptoms. Heart rate variability is defined by the differences in time between successive heart beats. In other words, your body’s ability to adapt to changes in the internal and external environment depends on (among other things) the variability and complexity of the heart rate. American Heart Month

TheThe variability of the heart relies on optimal communication between the autonomics, specifically in an area of the brain called the medulla (brain stem), and the heart. As review, the autonomic nervous system involved with the heart is divided into two branches. The sympathetic (fight or flight) branch that comes for the thoracic spine and the parasympathetic branch that is supplied by the Vagus nerve originating in the brain stem. Heart rate variability tells how us balanced these two branches of the aOS are. If that balance shifts to a sympathetic dominant state, then you may often see secondary conditions like insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, and indigestion. If the balance shifts towards parasympathetic dominance, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, acid reflex, and cold sensitivity may be common secondary conditions. Could injuries or abnormalities in the top part of the spine interfere with the communication link between the brain stem and the heart? Absolutely. At Balance Chiropractic our focus is on the correction of abnormal shifts in this part of the spine in order to restore NORMAL function and balance to the autonomic nervous system.

variability of the heart relies on optimal communication between the autonomics, specifically in an area of the brain called the medulla (brain stem), and the heart. As review, the autonomic nervous system involved with the heart is divided into two branches. The sympathetic (fight or flight) branch that comes for the thoracic spine and the parasympathetic branch that is supplied by the Vagus nerve originating in the brain stem. Heart rate variability tells how us balanced these two branches of the aOS are. If that balance shifts to a sympathetic dominant state, then you may often see secondary conditions like insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, and indigestion. If the balance shifts towards parasympathetic dominance, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, acid reflex, and cold sensitivity may be common secondary conditions. Could injuries or abnormalities in the top part of the spine interfere with the communication link between the brain stem and the heart? Absolutely. At Balance Chiropractic our focus is on the correction of abnormal shifts in this part of the spine in order to restore NORMAL function and balance to the autonomic nervous system.

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