Can Chiropractic Care Improve Heart Health?

Heart health—a topic that ought to be on all of our minds—is the top focus of February. This is because each year, roughly 25% of all deaths in the United States are related to heart disease. While some of these deaths are the result of congenital defects from birth, many are directly tied to lifestyle choices.

Chiropractic has and continues to be focused largely on preventative care and returning control of health to the patient. Most of us are familiar with the basics of heart health, which includes diet, exercise, and increasingly, stress management. What you may be less familiar with is exactly how chiropractic care can help.

Chiropractic and Nutrition

First and foremost, chiropractors are well trained in nutrition, both in helping to choose an appropriate diet and in using blood work to scout for developing problems or to guide recommendations for therapeutic foods or supplements.

Considering some of the top causes of heart disease are metabolic diseases (diabetes, for instance) and hypertension, this puts nutrition at the forefront of prevention. Combine that with the mixed message we receive daily from food companies and media, and it becomes increasingly important to consult with you doctor to tell fact from fiction.

The Adjustment

Second, there are several research studies suggesting improvements both in blood pressure and heart rate variability following chiropractic adjustments, especially in the upper neck (as seen in upper cervical chiropractic offices) and in the low back near the sacrum (the base of the pelvis). Both of these areas are tightly connected to the parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system, where the “rest and digest” control centers are located.

The 2007 “Chicago” study was the first randomized controlled study to demonstrate that specific adjustments (NUCCA/Grostic) to the upper cervical spine resulted in blood pressure reduction similar to taking two blood pressure medications.

Since then, numerous other studies demonstrated similar improvements in both blood pressure as well as heart rate variability (higher variability is good because it shows the body is in a more relaxed state). While this might come as a surprise, the underlying mechanism is the nervous system, the target of most chiropractic care. Balancing the nervous system by removing interference helps the body restore its natural rhythm and homeostasis.

Your Heart and Your Feet?

While the feet might not be the first thing on your list of areas to improve heart health, preliminary research done by Logan University suggested modest improvements in the effects of exercise in those wearing custom orthotic shoe inserts compared with those who were not. Notable improvements occurred in blood pressure reduction in the orthotic group that did not occur in the control group.

Many chiropractic offices utilize custom orthotic inserts as they’ve been known to help improve balance and posture, thereby reducing pain and global wear and tear on the body.

Kicking the Habit

Along with lung cancer, low back pain, and a myriad of other conditions, smoking has also been closely linked with cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, stroke, and heart attack.

For so many reasons, your chiropractor is likely to recommend and support the decision to remove tobacco and nicotine products from your life.  This can prove to be a very difficult change to manage by one’s self and it is crucial to receive support during major life changes. Your chiropractor is likely familiar with the resources available in your state and with other professionals that can help with the transition.

The Heart of the Matter

Ultimately heart health must be a collaborative approach. It takes daily efforts at home, the occasional hand of a professional, and a lifelong dedication to living a better life. As there’s no better time than the present to get started, here are a few tips to help get you started:

Best of luck in Heart Health Month! If you're seeking additional guidance, give Dr. Orsino a call at (321) 972-2008.

Sources:

  1. Effects of Upper and Lower Cervical Spinal Manipulative Therapy on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Variability in Volunteers and Patients With Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled, Cross-Over, Preliminary Study
  2. Effects of exercise and custom-made orthotics on blood pressure and heart rate variability: a randomized controlled pilot study
  3. Heart Rate Variability Modulation After Manipulation in Pain-Free Patients vs Patients in Pain
  4. Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study.

 

About the Author

Dr. Orsino, your local Winter Park chiropractor, focuses on preventative health by utilizing a mixture of traditional chiropractic techniques, modern equipment, and wellness advice to provide long lasting results to his patients. He also enjoys writing, video games, and the occasional matcha frappe.

Author
Paladin Chiropractic

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