In honor of American Heart Month, my February articles are focusing on a broader perspective of cardiovascular health and disease prevention. In the first two posts, I have brought you on a journey that broadens our previously accepted “truths,” and into the mysteries of this central organ and its associated pathways.
First, I discussed the research of HeartMath Institute. Their tools and applications for coherence and heart rate variability (HRV) have been demonstrated for their efficacy for enhanced stress resilience, better overall health outcomes, emotional well-being, and improvements in social interactions.
The second philosophy presented was Dr. Cowen’s new book that challenged the idea of the heart being a pump. Rather, he felt it was a hydraulic dam and that “cardiovascular flow” was based on vortices. The first weekend of February was an integration of these new concepts by combining essential oils with two tools from HeartMath Institute.
Last week, I provided an overview on how positive social connections can powerfully benefit your heart and whole body. In a continuation of this theme, I also reported that toxic, ambivalent relationships and isolation were associated with negative health outcomes.
Thankfully, tools were provided for more positive social connections. For essential oils enthusiasts, a recent post and video reviewed how essential oils could balance hormones to assist better communication and emotional balance for more beneficial relationship patterns.
Now, I want to discuss some of the genetic links to cardiovascular disease, and, more importantly, what we can do to mitigate risk by using lifestyle medicine. Next week, I’ll expand on how essential oils can support cardiovascular wellness.
The Genetics of Heart Disease and the Blood Type Association of Cardiovascular Risk
Genetics and Epigenetics- The Push-Pull
Many people are still of the belief that genes are the ultimate “destiny of our health.” Thankfully, due to the science of epigenetics, nutrigenomics, and the discovery of the impact of the microbiome, it is now generally accepted and understood by the mainstream that genes are one factor of what our future health outcomes will be. I have previously highlighted how nutrition, exercise, stress, environmental exposures, relationships, and essential oils all have an epigenomic impact on various health outcomes.
We still have a long way to go to the extent of genetic and epigenetic “determinism.” (1, 2) Still, the evidence that we have many ways to “upgrade” our software for better functioning hardware is empowering and changing how we view health and medicine!
The Risky Blood Types of the Heart
We inherit our blood type from our parents. Along with other genetic traits, such as ApoE, we cannot change the fact that DNA and genetics are associated with greater risk for certain diseases. For example, there has been consistent evidence that non-blood Type O types have higher incidences of heart disease. This article details a complex relationship between blood type and a hemodynamic factor linked to heart risk.
For those who need additional proof, the following two excerpts from journals state similar conclusions:
The results of this study underline the both key role of ABO blood group for the risk of developing arterial thrombotic events and the need for including such unmodifiable variable on the scores assessing the thrombotic risk. (Annals of Translational Medicine. 2016;4(10):189. doi:10.21037/atm.2016.03.58.)
The ABO blood group system is the most important system for blood group compatibility. However, as suggested elsewhere, ABO blood group may have additional consequences on other factors that might also contribute to the risk of thrombosis [16, 17] and deserve additional investigation particularly to explain the CHD risk. The data generated in the present study may be useful for health planners, while making efforts to face the future health challenges in the region. In short, generation of a simple database of blood groups not only provides data about the availability of human blood in case of regional calamities but also serves to enable insight into possibilities of future burden of diseases. (BioMed Research International. 2013;2013:782941. doi:10.1155/2013/782941.)
There is a list of more studies here.
For all the A, B, and AB blood types, don’t panic! Remember, we have the power of epigenetics!
One study emphases that we can mitigate the risk between our blood type and negative heart outcomes via behavioral, social, psychological, and environmental factors. The article entitled Genomics of Cardiovascular Disease published in NEJM, reviews other variants in our genetics, but also how they interact with “environmental contributions.” The article goes into the details of these various epigenetic factors and how lifestyle, even prenatal conditions, can impact genetic expression and modulate risk.
Some Action Steps for Heart Health in the Genetically Disadvantaged
The gene-nutrient interaction for blood type has been explored in the acclaimed book, the Blood Type Diet. Dr. D ’Adamo now offers even more extensive nutrigenomic evaluations, such as those found here.
Others may want to explore the benefits of a Mediterranean diet or finding their own, unique, nourishing diet that makes them feel healthy, strong, and uninflamed with an integrative practitioner.
Another article explored how we could use our genetic variations to modify the efficacy of medications for risks, now that’s one empowering action.
As I already reviewed above, beyond even genetics and nutrigenomics, there are other important environmental, cultural, and social implications to a healthy heart and life well-lived. We can use this knowledge of our blood type and nutrigenomics to take the “stress out of genetic destiny.”
This means that non-blood type O’s and those with “unfortunate” genetic variants can use lifestyle, nutrition, movement, stress management, and essential oils to mitigate their risk.
The bottom line is that we can’t change our blood type or other genes, but we can control our epigenetic expression and use this to our advantage.
In my homepage blog, I highlight integrative methods for personalizing prevention, promotion, and treatment of heart disease. Click here to read more.
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)