If ever there was an organ that you wanted to make sure was working properly at all times, the heart would probably be right up there with the brain.
However, there are a number of different heart issues of varying severity, and they are common enough that all types of scientists and health experts alike are trying to find ways to improve overall heart health.1,2 A lot of the conversation on the topic of heart health is about what we eat or how we exercise, rather than about the inner workings of the heart itself. A major part of how the heart works is related to cardiac enzymes. Here are some important things to know about enzymes and heart health.
The Role of Cardiac Enzymes
Cardiac enzymes are like other enzymes in that they regulate the various processes that keep the organ working properly and the blood flowing to the rest of your body. This can include speeding up or slowing down what the body does inherently in order to actually get the desired effect.3
Most of the discussion about cardiac enzymes is not about what they do but about when they’re not doing what they should, which refers to cardiac enzymes and their presence in the blood. Elevated blood levels of cardiac enzymes are similar to elevated liver enzymes in the blood, in that they are generally seen as indicators of injury or damage of some kind.4 Here are some of the most common cardiac enzymes that are likely to show up:
- Creatine Kinase
Out of the three of these, troponin is probably the enzyme that is most frequently discussed, as most patients who experience heart attacks see increased levels of it in the blood within six hours of experiencing initial symptoms.5 Many people, after experiencing symptoms or feeling they have heart issues, get a cardiac enzyme test to determine what exactly took place.
If you plan on getting a cardiac enzyme test, you want to have a few items prepared, including a health history covering any previous heart health issues, recent surgeries, the duration of symptoms, or the presence of high blood pressure. This is much like a typical blood test, and your doctor may also check for other biomarkers like:
- Blood glucose
- Platelet levels
Heart attacks are probably the most common cause for elevated troponin in the blood, but that doesn’t mean that heart attacks are the only potential cause. Impaired blood flow to the brain, respiratory conditions, kidney problems and sepsis can all lead to high levels of troponin in the blood.6
One situation that can lead to another type of elevated cardiac enzyme is muscle disorders. Certain muscle disorders can lead to higher levels of creatine kinase. Muscle injury and inflammation can lead to these enzymes being released into the blood, and some medications can cause higher levels of blood creatine kinase as well.
Supporting Your Heart Health
When everything is working well, cardiac enzymes quietly do their job under the radar. It’s other heart issues that generally cause them to be released into the bloodstream, and even then, they’re more of an indicator of issues rather than a root cause. Here are a few things you can do right now to support your heart health.
Digestive enzyme and nutritional support: Enzymes can support your heart health in indirect ways. By supporting the digestion process, digestive enzymes help you get more nutritional benefit from heart-friendly foods that you eat. A great way to make sure you get the appropriate nutrients is taking supplements like Enzymedica’s Enzyme Nutrition products for men and women. These enhanced enzyme blends help provide support for heart health as well as support for energy and immune system.
Lose weight: Studies show that excessive fat around the midsection is correlated with heart issues.7 Eating fewer calories on a daily basis and getting more exercise are the easiest starting points.
Laughing: Sound strange? Maybe not. Laughing lowers stress hormones and may even indirectly support your heart health via raising levels of high-density lipoprotein (HLD), also known as “good cholesterol.”8
Get up and move: Even if you’re not putting in strenuous exercise, taking a little time to move your legs can do a world of good. Physical inactivity is shown to have a negative impact on heart health and blood glucose levels.9
Heart support is a complicated puzzle to unravel, but the best starting point is to keep on top of your current health to guide your decisions, from diet to exercise and other lifestyle choices. Knowing how cardiac enzymes work and how to help them with their proper functions is a key part of this.
- Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015;131:e29-322.
- CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed Feb. 3, 2015.
- Neurath H, Walsh KA. Role of proteolytic enzymes in biological regulation (a review). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1976;73(11):3825-32.
- Ruzich RS. Cardiac enzymes. How to use serial determinations to confirm acute myocardial infarction. Postgrad Med. 1992;92(7):85-9, 92.
- Fesmire et al. “Clinical Policy: Critical Issues in the Evaluation and Management of Adult Patients with Non–ST-Segment Elevation Acute Coronary Syndromes.” Annals of Emergency Medicine. Volume 48, No. 3. September 2006.
- Sharma S, Jackson PG, Makan J. Cardiac troponins. J Clin Pathol. 2004;57(10):1025-6.
- Coutinho T, Goel K, Corrêa de sá D, et al. Central obesity and survival in subjects with coronary artery disease: a systematic review of the literature and collaborative analysis with individual subject data. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;57(19):1877-86.
- American Heart Association, “How Humor Helps Your Heart.” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/Humor-helps-your-heart-How_UCM_447039_Article.jsp#.V9rhtbWKTBI , accessed 4/18/18.
- Giardina EV, Paul TK, Hayes D, Sciacca RR. Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among Young Urban Women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2016;25(11):1139-1146.