Heart disease – a silent killer – Part 2

Heart disease is a serious condition that takes a toll on your vital organs. Heart disease is commonly associated with high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, there is a ‘higher pressure’ created inside your blood vessels that places extra strain on your heart. Over time, this extra strain increases the possible risks of chronic diseases as heart and kidney disease, dementia, and could lead to a heart attack or stroke… which could be fatal. (sorry to scare you, but this is serious stuff).


If symptoms for heart disease are not recognized early, prevention and treatment become increasingly more difficult. This battle can not only be difficult for the individual, but also loved ones.

Heart related diseases are a very personal topic for me to discuss since my father battled it all his life. He initially had high BP, high cholesterol, high stress… which turned into chronic heart disease and eventually lead to other terrible health conditions, one being diabetes. So I grew up understanding the signs, knowing the symptoms, and valuing how important it is to take care of your health and wellbeing.

Although my dad was very active and my mom nourished us all with healing foods, the preventive treatments, meds, and other healing remedies weren’t enough to ‘cure’ the problems that developed years ago. I worked with my dad to improve his condition, but the issues became a ‘yin-yang’ effect to keep his body regulated. Therefore, when he tried to do something positive (aka exercise), then something negative would occur (ex; decreased insulin). The cause-effect role was difficult to regulate, especially being on BP meds that regulated his heart.

This said, sometimes these chronic diseases can get into your system and take over the body leaving one with a plethora of other issues that feed off of the other. (Ex; heart & kidney disease, diabetes).

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could physically go inside your cells and hit the restart button resetting everything?!

I am sharing this with you because I lived it all my life and saw first hand the terrible effects high BP and heart disease caused for my amazing father to deal with over his life. I’m sure there’s many of you who can relate to similar situations or know someone who has suffered too. My goal is to educate and inspire people to make changes to their diet and become more active to prevent these horrible diseases from occurring.

It’s like a slow death if it can’t be corrected in time. Perhaps this is why I am so passionate about the health and wellness industry. I have a ‘soft, but strong’ heart for this topic and want everyone out there to know that prevention is key. That’s why managing stress, eating a healthy diet, and regular exercise are so valuable for your overall wellbeing and a sustained life.


You cannot change your family history, your previous eating habits or your past lifestyle, but you can prevent yourself from getting heart disease and you can get tested to detect early signs of the disease before the obvious symptoms occur.


EXERCISE… Cardio cardio cardio! The name of the game is to keep in constant motion for a set period of time to strengthen your heart muscle and move your body. It may take time to build up the strength and endurance, however, with consistency, your body will adjust quickly and you can increase your duration, method of training, or style to accommodate your goals.

Some workout examples include:
• Steady state cardio (ex: treadmill, elliptical, bike, rower)
• HIIT - a blend of cardio and strength exercises performed in High Intensity Interval Training format. (the intervals are performed at a moderate pace that is challenging, not straining)
• Classes - any type of fitness class will be beneficial! The goal is to move for the set duration.
• Total Gym Workouts - because of the dynamic nature of the Total Gym, you will benefit in both cardio and strength exercises that move in all angles of motion. It’s a perfect way to develop muscular strength to support your cardiovascular system simultaneously. Plus, there are so many exercise to choose from so you can vary your workouts each time.


A healthy diet helps control blood pressure by intaking foods rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and low in sodium.

Some of the best foods that are rich in minerals and vitamins include:
• Leafy greens [NOT canned] - ex: spinach, kale, arugula, romaine, collard greens, swiss chard
• Berries [ rich in flavonoids] - ex: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mulberries
• Beets [high in nitric oxide & help open blood vessels] - ex: boil, eat raw, blend in smoothie
• Wild Fish [high in omega 3s] - ex: salmon, mackerel, monk
• Garlic & herbs [increases nitric oxide in body to promote widening of the arteries] - ex: flavor foods with herbs rather than salt. Also add basil, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, turmeric
• Olive Oil [healthy fat, contains polyphenols to reduce blood pressure] - ex: great for cooking or salad dressing


There are several tests available that can provide early detection to determine if you are at risk or have damage inside your arteries that may lead to a heart attack or stroke. A commonly prescribed test is a lipid panel (blood test), which is a good test to detect a potential for heart disease. Although one problem with the lipid panel test is that it does not test for endothelial damage, where newer tests are now available that are able to detect this condition which has become a breakthrough for early detection.

What is Endothelial Damage?

The endothelial layer is the inner lining of the small arteries, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels. Problems occur inside the interior surface of the vessels which form a lesion (think of a small pimple inside your vessels) that disrupts circulating blood or lymph fluid from moving through the vessel wall. As a result, several bad things can occur to the tissues within those arteries if not detected.

What Causes Endothelial Dysfunction?

There are several causes that contribute to this condition. Many of these causes fall in the same category as high blood pressure including hypertension, smoking, lack of physical activity, and diabetes. Other factors that could develop endothelial dysfunction include:

• Magnesium deficiency. - Magnesium is a smooth muscle vasodilator)
• Low Coenzyme 10 Levels (Q10) -
• Increased stress- emotional stress stimulates constriction of the blood vessels
• Increased body inflammation
• High cholesterol levels
• Lack of antioxidants

Why is Testing for Endothelial Damage Important?

Hypertension (high blood pressure) develops when there is endothelium damage. Therefore, one of the keys to treating high blood pressure is treating the endothelial dysfunction.

To prevent these cause and effect issues, taking precautions is necessary and it starts with taking control of your health with good habits of diet and exercise and staying on top of cutting edge science with preventive measures.


I’m very passionate about this subject matter and I am happy to provide you with more information regarding new technologies pertaining to early detection. It can help you take preventive precautions and could save your life.

Please feel free to contact me for more information on prevention and detection of heart related illnesses: marias@r4bio.com

Stay tuned for a Total Gym specific workout (part 3 blog) that will help prevent and/ or reduce blood pressure levels as well as condition your heart.

Best always,

Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. http://www.groovysweat.com http://www.groovysweatstore.com (purchasable workout videos) http://www.youtube.com/groovysweat (workout clips)

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