Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a condition that might not be widely known, but it has enormous effects on those who live with it. This disorder, which affects the body’s connective tissues, can greatly impact heart health.
What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
Imagine your body as a house, with connective tissue as its framework. In Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, this framework is weaker than usual. It’s a bit like having a building where the cement doesn’t hold as firmly, or the beams bend too easily. EDS is a group of disorders mainly affecting the connective tissues, which support skin, bones, blood vessels, and other vital organs.
People with EDS’s skin might stretch more and heal slower, and their joints may be more flexible. It’s not just about being able to bend your thumb backward or having stretchy skin – this condition can lead to more serious issues. For some, it means joints that dislocate easily or skin that bruises at the slightest bump. For others, it’s more hidden, with internal symptoms like digestive or heart problems.
Understanding EDS is like piecing together a puzzle. Each person’s experience is unique, making it a challenging and often misunderstood condition.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Heart Health
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome doesn’t just affect the skin and joints; it can also have a big impact on the heart. One common heart issue for people with EDS is dysautonomia, especially a type called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).
POTS happens when standing up causes the heart to beat very fast, leading to dizziness, fainting, or a feeling like the heart is racing. This happens because EDS can make the body’s system for controlling automatic functions, like heart rate, less reliable.
Apart from dysautonomia, EDS can also directly affect the heart and blood vessels. The same weak connective tissue that makes skin stretchy and joints flexible in EDS can also make blood vessels fragile. This can increase the risk of serious problems like blood vessels tearing or forming aneurysms (a bulge in a blood vessel that can burst), especially for those with vascular EDS. These issues can be dangerous, potentially leading to strokes or heart attacks.
Both people with EDS and their doctors need to understand these heart-related risks. Not everyone with EDS will have serious heart problems, but knowing about these risks helps with better care and prevention. Managing EDS often means paying particular attention to heart health and having a plan that fits each person’s unique needs.
What Causes EDS?
EDS is usually inherited, meaning it’s passed down in families. However, how someone with EDS feels can be greatly affected by their environment and lifestyle. Things like chemicals in our surroundings, not eating well, not getting enough physical activity, too little sunshine, and poor sleep can worsen EDS symptoms.
For example, exposure to certain chemicals might increase joint pain or skin issues. A diet lacking essential nutrients can affect overall health, potentially making EDS symptoms more severe. Not getting enough exercise, sunlight, or good sleep can also worsen these symptoms. So, while EDS is genetic, how we live our lives can greatly impact how we experience the condition.
Best Treatment Options for EDS
Although there’s no cure for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, many people with this condition can lead normal lives by focusing on their overall health. A key approach is to follow the principles of Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well.
- Eat Well is centered around a diet rich in whole foods packed with vitamins and minerals, vital for strengthening the body’s connective tissues. Consuming grass-fed beef, bone broths, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, organ meats, and wild-caught seafood can be particularly beneficial. These foods support collagen production, which is essential for people with EDS. Additionally, they contribute to overall health and well-being. Adopting this nutritious diet can play a significant role in managing common EDS symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain.
- Live Well emphasizes the importance of an active lifestyle while prioritizing other key health aspects like getting ample Vitamin D from sunlight and ensuring quality sleep. Regular exposure to sunshine is essential for Vitamin D synthesis, which plays a crucial role in bone health.
Incorporating low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking, or yoga can strengthen muscles, improve cardiovascular health, and promote joint stability, all of which benefit individuals with EDS.
Equally important is prioritizing good sleep habits. Quality sleep helps repair and rejuvenate the body, crucial for managing EDS symptoms. Balancing physical activity with adequate rest and sunlight exposure forms the cornerstone of living well with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
- Think Well focuses on mental health. Living with a chronic condition can be challenging, so managing stress and maintaining a positive outlook is crucial. This could involve practices like mindfulness, therapy, or joining support groups for emotional and psychological well-being.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, supplements like CollaGen can benefit those with EDS. CollaGen is unique because it blends three clinically studied ingredients, each supporting natural healing and maintaining connective tissue structure. It’s thought to provide the body with the building blocks needed for stronger connective tissues.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for managing EDS, these approaches can help many individuals come as close to healing as possible, leading to a more comfortable and fulfilling life.
If you or someone you know has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, consider working with one of our health experts at Natural Heart Doctor. Our team is highly experienced in guiding patients with EDS and other dysautonomias. We offer a 20-minute health discovery call at no charge to you. Let us be part of your healing team.