RACHEL'S RUMINATIONS: Kick off American Heart Month with integrative resource
Steven Parcell's "Dare to Live" is a treasure trove of information about cardiovascular health, including conventional and natural medicine.
Originally, I had planned to review “Atomic Habits” by James Clear for this column, but when I finished the book last week I was less than enthused with this prospect.
I thought that discussing habit changes at the end of January would tie in nicely with New Year’s resolutions. A few years ago, I had read “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, which I found absolutely fascinating. According to Clear, “Atomic Habits” was written to expand upon the systems and strategies originally outlined in Duhigg’s book. “Atomic Habits” was well-written and interesting; I gave it a Goodreads score of 4/5.
So at the last minute, I picked up “Dare to Live: A Naturopathic Doctor’s Complete Guide to the Prevention and Treatment of Coronary Artery Disease” by Dr. Stephen W. Parcell, ND, which I had started reading for a past column and had not finished.
This book is an absolute treasure trove for any lay person or medical professional alike!
If you have a family history of heart disease or have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or any type of heart disease, this book is a must-read. Within three days of reading it, I had already referenced it for diagnostic and treatment ideas for three different patients!
The book is 231 pages in length, including 14 chapters and five helpful appendices. Each chapter ends with “Key Points and Action Steps,” which is helpful if you are a speed reader or skimmer or just want a general refresher, followed by extensive works cited.
The first couple of chapters cover what arterial plaque is and how to determine whether you are at risk. Chapter 2 is extremely valuable, as Parcell gives an extensive review of valuable blood tests beyond the basic lipid panel along with action steps if these tests are abnormal. In Chapter 3, he focuses solely on exercise as related to heart disease.
I found the fourth chapter on statins fascinating and convincing on its merit, especially as some of you know I am not a big fan of this medication. Parcell also delves into how to understand your lipid panel and additional ways to improve those parameters.
In Chapter 5, he explains how certain hormones (testosterone, estrogen, cortisol) impact your cardiovascular health. Chapter 7 is dedicated to high blood pressure with which so many people struggle as they age. In Chapter 10, Parcell discusses how other medical conditions (hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome) may contribute to heart disease.
He discusses extensive helpful dietary interventions in Chapters 11 and 12 to prevent heart attack and stroke. Chapter 13 is dedicated to various supplements that may be beneficial to heart health.
This resource is a perfect way to dive into February’s American Heart Month. I strongly encourage you to read this book and start incorporating the myriad ways Parcell offers to improve your cardiovascular health in a holistic manner, blending the best of conventional and natural medicine.