Heart health concerns a majority of aging adults, both male and female. Modern diets are often deficient in the nutrients and fiber that help maintain a healthy heart, and lifestyle choices can also have a substantial negative impact. In addition, aging can slow natural rebuilding processes and put older adults at risk. Heart health is primarily a matter of maintaining natural processes—like inflammation, oxidation of free radicals and LDL cholesterol production—within the normal range. The following sections will help you understand how each of these processes impact heart health.
How free radicals damage the heart
The list of health problems caused by free radicals is long. When it comes to heart health, free radicals are dangerous because they cause oxidation, which turns artery walls sticky. Healthy artery walls are slippery and keep normal fats and cholesterol flowing through the blood. Free radicals oxidize cells, which makes them sticky. These sticky cells are more likely to adhere to artery walls and cause problems.
LDL cholesterol’s possible negative impact
Keeping LDL cholesterol levels in the normal range is an important component of a heart-healthy lifestyle. The medical community has long recognized that LDL cholesterol can build up in arteries and cause problems. LDL cholesterol also impacts the structure of artery walls. Normal levels of LDL cholesterol help maintain strong artery walls, which prevents cracks from appearing.
Why excessive inflammation is a problem
Inflammation is your body’s normal healthy response to an injury. When you cut yourself, the area around the cut becomes inflamed as the body sends healing agents to combat infection and repair skin and muscle cells. Inflammation is only problematic when it becomes excessive, or chronic. Excessive inflammation disrupts normal functions and can weaken the integrity of cell walls, putting stress on the body’s attempts to rebuild and repair individual areas. Too much inflammation of artery walls, for example, weakens the artery walls and puffs up the cells. This puffing creates gaps between the cells lining your arteries (endothelial cells), which allows cholesterol and fats to penetrate and cause damage.
Why we need more Co Q 10 as we age
Although micronutrients like Co Q 10 can be found in small amounts in foods like meat, fish and chicken, it can be tough to get enough. In addition, the body’s ability to absorb and synthesize Co Q 10 diminishes with age, putting aging adults at risk for a deficiency. This micronutrient is best absorbed, regardless of age, if taken at mealtime with a bit of fat.