How To Prevent And Treat Heart Disease

Heart disease is a general term for a number of different diseases, all of which influence the heart in some way. Heart disease is in fact considered as being the leading reason of death nowadays in the United States. Heart disease indeed possesses serious threat to many people. Therefore, it is important to understand the methods to prevent and treat heart disease.

Prevention methods

There is reason to be hopeful because according to experts, heart disease prevention is promising. Even though some risk factors including sex, genetics, and age of a person are not within our control, one can still make an alteration in lifestyle and also change diet so that the odds of heart disease are significantly reduced.

There are also other methods by which heart disease prevention can be achieved. According to what the American Heart Association proposes, one must control obesity even in children and also make a determined attempt to take proper diet that contains enough nutrition. One of the better nutritional supplements you may want to try for heart disease prevention is mangosteen puree that is rich in antioxidants which aid in destroying free radicals that are the reason behind damage to cells and which in turn will result in heart disease.

Good heart disease prevention may also mean controlling the blood pressure and having LDL cholesterol at low levels. The best way to attain these goals is by making appropriate changes to diet and even by taking medications if so recommended by the doctor. Clearly, having low blood sugar levels will consider as heart disease prevention.

Another alternative is to exercise because it is a well known fact that regular exercise can reduce the risks of heart disease. Experts have a tendency to recommend as much exercise as humanly possible at least an hour per day. For many people, this seems like a never-ending task but the truth is this amount of exercise can be attained in ways other than going to the gym. Basically changing some habits, such as walking to work, can make people healthier. Walking is perhaps the easiest, cheapest, and healthiest type of exercise for most people and therefore should be taken advantage of.

The best heart disease prevention may not be a solitary course of action; rather, one may decide to have many strategies combined into one that will prove to be more effective. You can select approaches such as changes in diet, together with reducing excess weight and also maintaining blood sugar levels as well as taking nutritional supplements that are suggested by health experts.

Treatment options for heart disease

If you have heart disease then you will have to have some types of heart disease treatment in order to solve your problem. There are various heart disease treatment options that are available nowadays. The first treatment is of course prevention as explained previously.

However, if your heart disease is serious, than most probably you will also have to use more serious techniques of heart disease treatment. This includes medical treatment, which will usually be started straight away, even before an exact diagnosis of a heart problem is made.

This medical treatment may comprise of oxygen from a tube in the nose, oxygen through a face mask, nitroglycerin under the tongue, pain medicines, and aspirin. There are also clot dissolving medications which are often given, and the earlier these drugs are given, the higher the chances of opening the blocked artery and defending the cardiac muscle from further injury.

Cellular therapy, for example, is considered as being a potential treatment for heart disease. This is due to cellular products have been revealed to hold great potential for the treating of injured and diseased tissues in the body. They come from many sources, such as stem cells from bone marrow, peripheral blood, and myoblasts from skeletal muscle cells. The research so far has shown that this cellular therapy offers amazingly positive results, and so with additional research and more advancement, in the future this just may be known as the cure for heart disease.

Surgery can be executed on those who experience heart disease at any age although other methods are preferable. Surgery is necessary for those who do not react to their medications or whose condition worsens radically. In some situations, surgery is the only method to amend the problem and give the patient a probability of good health. In uncommon cases, repeat surgery is needed afterward to rid the body of excess fluids that have developed in the chest.

Heart surgery can be wearing and the healing period can be slow so it is no surprise to find out that a huge number of people who suffer from heart disease which needs surgery are interested in less invasive surgery. Less invasive surgery for heart disease can involve smaller incisions, less pain, and a much faster healing period. Not only does this type of surgery involve shorter hospital stays, it can also reduce the risks of complications to the patient during and after the operation.

There are many resources that are available if you want more information on the treatment of heart disease. The most significant thing of all is to keep a healthy lifestyle, a healthy and nutritious diet, and plenty of exercise. By keeping a healthy lifestyle you will not only be guarding yourself against heart disease but as well against all illnesses and health conditions in general.

Understanding And Overcoming Heart Disease

Heart diseases head the list among all causes of death from disease. Furthermore, heart diseases are steadily on the increase. When this vital organ becomes affected it is time to take a complete inventory, not only of one’s physical condition in general and in detail, but of the various factors that make up one’s daily life.

One woman patient had been told by her doctor that she had a “bad heart” and was cautioned against doing any of the things that would have benefited her heart had it been somewhat abnormal. Yet fifteen physicians after this first one had told her, after careful examination, that her heart was normal. Still, she believed the first one, and in her own mind continued to have “heart trouble” and constantly worried about it. The worry did not cause a heart affection later, but it did make her a neurastheniac. However, if there is something definitely wrong with the heart anxiety and nervous conditions will have a detrimental effect upon it.

There are numerous well-defined diseases of the heart. Chronic organic diseases are those to be considered here. The acute conditions should have professional supervision, so do not need to be considered in this chapter. Functional disturbances usually are merely symptoms, resulting from causes outside of the heart and not due to structural changes in the heart tissues. These also will not be considered at present. It is the organic conditions that are most frequent and for which home treatment will be necessary for the most part, for it is a matter of months before chronic organic heart disease can be sufficiently improved that one may be considered wholly out of danger and before one’s life can return to comparative normal.

The organic diseases of a chronic nature in which we are most concerned are the chronic inflammations. If the pericardium or covering of the heart is affected, the condition is pericarditis; if the muscular walls are affected it is a myocarditis; if it is the heart lining, it is endocarditis, the most common heart affection. There also may be involvement of the arteries of the heart, as by a hardened or sclerotic condition with deposits of lime salts – the same as occurs in arteries anywhere else in the body in arteriosclerosis. Or the nerves of the heart may be affected, in which the beat is more or less altered.

The most common chronic organic affection of the heart is “leaking valves” – chronic valvular heart disease. There are four sets of valves in the heart and any set and any combination of sets of these valves may become abnormal. These valves arc subject to much wear and tear in their function of aiding in the circulation of the blood. Because of their position they are especially subject to any inflammation affecting the membrane that covers them – the “endocardium.”

These valves may be likened to the valves of a pump, which wear out before other parts of the pump and so require replacement. Unfortunately, however, there can be no replacement of the worn-out heart valves in man. Various changes may take place in the valves due to inflammation. Thus there may be a softening and disintegration, with breaking off or absorption of parts of the valves; or the valves may become adhered to the wall of the cavity; or excrescences may form on the margin of the valve; or the valve may curl up; or the heart cavity may dilate – any of these conditions preventing complete closing of the opening the valve was meant to guard, thus permitting blood to flow backward when it should be going forward, or preventing the onward flow of the blood.

The characteristic signs of valvular heart diseases are heart murmurs, which vary according to the valves affected; pain of varying degrees and nature, a rapid and weak pulse, shortness of breath, impaired circulation and blueness of the lips and extremities. These symptoms are much less pronounced when a person is reclining but become accentuated upon the slightest excitation. Fainting is likely to occur when the condition is more pronounced and the compensation of the heart-muscle is broken or defective. The natural termination of this condition is heart failure, though it may not occur for many years, during which time a reasonably active, productive, normal life may have been enjoyed.

One of the intermediate effects of this failure of the valve to close the opening is a backing up of the blood into the heart chamber just before the damaged valve, or into the lungs or some of the organs of the abdomen. If the blood is backed up into a chamber of the heart there is a gradual dilatation of this chamber. If the muscle tone is good the heart becomes merely hypertrophied, or enlarged; but if the muscle tone is weak there is an actual dilatation, due to the thinning of the muscle tissue. This is a precarious situation.

Because of the incompetence of the valve they have various common names for this type of heart trouble: organic heart disease, valvular disease of the heart, valvular regurgitation, cardiac insufficiency, valvular incompetency, stenosis, valvular leakage, chronic endocarditis, etc. Since the physician upon listening to the heart sounds can hear a “swish” of the blood as it regurgitates, it is said that the patient has a “murmur” in his heart.

Angina pectoris, usually regarded as a disease of the heart, is a painful and fearful affection. The pain varies in intensity, and the heart-action is more or less greatly disturbed. When the pain develops the patient fears to move and has an expression of great anxiety, for there is an associated feeling of impending death. The paroxysms may last for a few minutes only or they may continue for hours. Successive paroxysms are apt to increase in frequency. This condition is ascribed to sclerosis (hardening) of the coronary arteries – the arteries that feed the heart muscle – or to some other organic heart disease. After the age of forty-five is the most common time of the development of this disease.

The cause of heart disease may be considered as any factor aiding in the accumulation of poisons in the body. The toxic substances that would have been eliminated in the acute infectious disease, plus serums, vaccines and drugs are considered by many authorities to have an injurious effect upon the heart. At any rate, heart disease follows very frequently such diseases as rheumatism, diphtheria, scarlet fever, tonsillitis and venereal diseases. Many patients will date the beginning of their heart trouble from an acute ailment. This being so, the best way to avoid heart disease is to avoid acute illnesses.

But there are numerous other contributing causes of heart disease. Foci of infection in any part of the body, such as abscesses at tooth roots, or in the tonsils, or elsewhere, ulcerations, and other sources of pus in the body. The strain and the toxic influence of overeating is a frequent cause or at least a contributing factor. The injury to the heart from tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, coco beverages and the habitual use of drugs may seriously injure this vital organ. Frequent exposure to pronounced muscular fatigue and to cold, also sexual excesses and the hurry and worry incident to present day business life are among the causative factors.

Excessive physical exertion before maturity is a potent cause of heart disease. Undeveloped boys and girls who are obliged to work beyond their physical capacity may develop heart affections under the strain. There may not seem to be any serious manifestations of disease for a number of years, but the cause often is in the growing period of life. Men and women who were athletic in early life frequently have heart trouble, due to the fact that they have developed a large fibrous heart during their training days and then allowed the heart muscle to become atrophied and weak and replaced with fat through a later life of ease. At some later time they engage in some sport or activity, temporarily, feeling themselves to have their old-time strength, only to develop acute dilatation.

This indicates the inadvisability of attempting a sudden spurt of athletics without having ample reason to know that the heart and other vital organs can withstand the strain. It also indicates the importance of tapering off from athletics gradually, rather than suddenly, as so often is done after high school or college.

In the symptoms of heart disease there may be none definitely referable to the heart itself. Often the first trouble noticed is with the digestive system. Many people have heart disease and are not aware of it until they consult a physician for examination to determine the cause of shortness of breath. One patient, a woman of forty-eight, with two grown children, went to a physician for her insurance examination. She was found to have a valvular leakage, the cause of which, so far as could be determined, being scarlet fever at the age of nine, there having been no other condition to which it could be ascribed. When this woman was refused insurance she discovered why, and from that time on she began to have symptoms of heart disease.

Sometimes the first symptom noticed is a slight cough, probably streaks of blood in the sputum, which causes the patient to consult a physician for treatment for lung or bronchial trouble. It is the backing up of the circulation in the lungs and bronchial tubes which causes this cough, with possible rupture of some capillaries. Sometimes this backing up of the blood causes congestion in the digestive organs, resulting in indigestion. Practically every organ in the body may present symptoms due to this failure of the heart to accept full quantity of blood and pass it on normally. There also may be shortness of breath on slightest exertion; headache, ringing in the ears, dizziness and insomnia, circulatory defects, giving cold hands and feet, interference with the kidneys, shown either in the function of urinating or in the findings in the urine. The pulse at first may be strong and rapid, but later becomes rapid, weak and irregular, and there may be disturbing heart-symptoms. The lips may be pale or purplish; there may be pains or aches in the region of the heart, or extending to the left shoulder and down the arm (characteristic of angina pectoris). There may be gradual loss of weight and a gradually increasing weakness.

If compensation fails, due to gradual playing out of the heart muscle, a dropsical condition develops, which may affect the limbs and abdomen, though at first it may involve merely the tissues below the eyes or the eyelids.

Any of these symptoms may result from some other condition than heart trouble. If one experiences them, one should not immediately jump to the conclusion that one has heart disease. If due to heart disease most of such symptoms can be overcome or greatly alleviated.

It is well to have an examination made if there is a suspicion of heart trouble. It is my opinion that it is better for the majority of people to know whether such trouble exists, for there are certain things that they should do and others that they should not do if they want to preserve the heart.

It must not be expected that a valve can be restored to normal, but in many cases the muscular walls of the heart become stronger and thicker so that the heart is capable of pumping as much blood as before. As long as this condition remains there is compensation, and so long as this is maintained through proper care and treatment the patient will get along as well as before. But compensation is lost when the heart muscle weakens or the cavities dilate, and the symptoms of heart disease return.

Treatment. In order to secure satisfactory results in the treatment of organic heart disease it is necessary that the general bodily vigor be increased. One of the most important factors in the treatment is diet. It is important that the quantity of food be kept down to actual body requirements, and that the food be easily digested. Overloading the stomach can result only in continuation and aggravation of the heart trouble. Unless there is decided emaciation the diet should be quite abstemious. It is advisable in this case to weigh daily for a time, in order to determine the amount of food required to maintain the body at normal or somewhat below normal or to permit it to reduce slowly until it approaches nearer normal.

A complete fast is a very excellent treatment for this condition, but it should be of only short duration – from two or three to six or eight days, depending upon the general condition. If there is no dropsy it often is better to use the fruit diet instead of the absolute or water fast. If a complete fast is taken one should devote two or three days to the fruit diet when the fast is broken. The enema should be used daily during the fast or fruit diet if spontaneous elimination does not take place.

If there is no dropsical condition the milk diet is excellent in heart disease, but one should work up quite slowly to somewhat less than full quantity as the maximum allowance. Usually it is better to begin with one-half glass every hour (after the fast or fruit diet) and increase each day’s allowance an ounce or two at each feeding until three quarts daily are taken, then to increase a glass a day until four or a maximum of four and a half quarts are taken daily. The juice of an orange or two should precede the start on the milk each morning, and the enema should be used for elimination if necessary rather than to use any laxative food with the milk.

Instead of the milk diet one may use fair amounts of raw vegetable salads, cooked green vegetables, root vegetables, fresh and sweet fruit and sweet or any form of sour milk. Toast may be used also, but preferably not breads unless they are dry. No other cereal should be used for some time, relying upon the sweet fruit and milk for the carbohydrate requirement.

Exercise as well as diet is helpful in the treatment of chronic heart disease. The heart can be strengthened only by exercise. Its rhythmic beating is an exercise, but the heart would become quickly weakened if its owner were to lie in bed all of the time – even though it beat regularly during this time. The heart is composed practically entirely of muscle, and the only way it can be exercised is by sufficient exercise of the skeletal muscles to increase the force and frequency of the heart-beat. Naturally, all violent or straining exercise must be avoided. At first it may be necessary for a person only to practice some leg-raising and arm-raising movements while seated or while reclining, though it is not advisable to raise the arms over the head in most cases when the heart is seriously affected.

Walking is the most valuable type of exercise. When walking is begun one may gradually increase the distance covered, going at a slow gait at first. A furlong and back (or even less) once or twice a day may be sufficient for two or three days, then the distance may be increased one-half block each way daily. After considerable distance can be walked this way it is permissible to slightly increase the speed, or to select a very slight incline up which to walk for a number of steps. First the distance up the hill may be gradually increased and then slight increase in the speed. Then a slightly increased incline may be used; and so on, up gradually steeper inclines.

Usually there will be breathlessness, dizziness, blueness of the lips, palpitation or some other definite indication that the exercise has reached the limit of one’s heart endurance before the heart has been definitely damaged by the exercise, and when such symptoms develop one should cease exercise for that period and secure complete rest until recuperated. Some patients have been able to so increase the strength of the heart muscle that they could take a regular thirty-minute calisthenic exercise period or swim or play volley ball or go over trails up the hills without any symptom of heart affection. Such improvement has required many weeks, of course.

In addition to diet and exercise, the circulation should be aided by other means also. One should use the tonic bath daily. There is no better heart exercise of a perfectly safe type than this. The tonic bath is a bath at below body temperature. It may be at eighty degrees, seventy-five degrees, sixty-five degrees or on down, but it should be at such a temperature that, while it requires reaction, it does not produce a pronounced shock. One may ultimately become able to take a cold plunge, but this never is really necessary for the heart nor for any other organ or function of the body. The temperature of the water should be reduced gradually from day to day.

One of the best means of securing this tonic bath at first is by the wet-hand rub. The shower is satisfactory also, or one may use the splash method or a sponge or wet cloth. It is the reaction from the cold bath rather than the cold itself that secures better skin circulation to relieve the heart of some of its work, but the cold bath driving the blood inward and the reaction calling it out again, is a very excellent heart exercise through effect upon the nerves and blood vessels. If the reaction to cool or cold baths is poor it is better not to attempt this form of bath.

It may be necessary to bathe only one part of the body at a time at first and to use water very slightly below body temperature. But gradually more and more of the body and cooler and cooler water can be used.

Air-baths are excellent in this condition, and sun-baths also, though care must be taken to avoid sunburns. Any sunbath should be followed by a tonic bath to overcome the weakening effect of the infra-red rays, whether of natural or of artificial light.

It cannot be over-emphasized that exercise is necessary for correction of heart trouble. But also it must be equally stressed that over-exertion is dangerous and may be fatal. One should advance very slowly in muscular efforts. Also in the use of cold water. Many heart patients who previously have been denied exercise or activity of any kind will in time be enabled, by following the proper dietetic, exercise, bathing and resting program, to perform considerable amounts of activity, both physical and mental.

The 25 Top Heart Healthy Foods Help Fight Heart Disease

Heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death in the Unites States. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing almost 380,000 people annually.

In the United States, a heart attack occurs every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone dies from a heart disease-related event. Heart disease kills 1 in 3 women, more than breast cancer and all forms of cancer combined.

71 million American adults, 33.5% of the population have high cholesterol; a major contributing risk factor for heart disease and only 1 out of every 3 adults have the condition under control.

The Role Of Diet In Heart Disease

Diet and exercise are the main ways to prevent heart disease, ensure long-term health, and prevent chronic disease. Heart healthy foods deliver power-packed phytonutrients that help to prevent and repair cellular damage and valuable macro and micronutrients to ensure optimal heart health.

Many foods also aid in preventing high cholesterol and clogging of heart arteries that can lead to the need for bypass surgery or premature death from heart attack.

Olive oil has been shown to reduce heart disease and is one of the main staples of the Mediterranean diet that a recent study showed to reduce heart disease by 30% in high-risk patients and by 9% in healthy individuals.

In addition, here are 25 more foods that are chock full of heart-healthy nutrients, which can aid in the protection of your cardiovascular system.

1. Salmon

According to the American Heart Association, omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy fats that fall under the category of polyunsaturated fats. Regular intake of these healthy fats helps to lower the risk of heart arrhythmias that often result in sudden death, slow plaque buildup in the heart and lower triglyceride levels.

2. Flaxseed

Flaxseed provides omega-3 fatty acids, along with fiber and phytoestrogens that help to lower bad LDL cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol.

Ground flaxseed can be added to cereals, yogurt, homemade muffins, and to steamed vegetables for a nutty flavor.

3. Oatmeal

Many studies have confirmed that soluble dietary fiber intake greatly reduces the risk for developing heart disease. A ΒΌ-cup serving of steel cut oats provides 15% of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily allowance of fiber. Hot oatmeal and fresh berries is a treat for you and your heart.

4. Beans

Beans are very high in both soluble and insoluble fiber that helps control cholesterol, and they are a great source of lean protein as opposed to animal protein that is much higher in saturated fat that can clog heart arteries.

Beans also provide:

Magnesium

B-complex vitamins

Niacin

Folate

Omega-3 fatty acids

Calcium

5. Blueberries

Blueberries are high in fiber and low in sugar and offer essential carotenoids, the flavonoid, anthocyanin, Ellagic acid, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.

6. Tofu

Tofu is a great alternative to animal protein that is high in saturated fat and provides, Niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

7. Red Wine and Grapes

The catechin and resveratrol flavonoids in red wine are believed to reduce risk for heart disease. Red grapes are rich in flavonoids so there is no need to start drinking just for heart health. Raw fresh garlic and garlic supplements are also great sources of catechin.

8. Tuna

Tuna is a fatty fish that is rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It also provides folate and niacin.

9. Walnuts

Like almonds, walnuts offer essential nutrients for heart health, including heart-favorable mono and polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, folate, fiber and vitamin E.

10. Brown Rice

Brown rice is a healthy whole grain that is much better for heart health than white processed rice. It gives you, B-complex vitamins, niacin, magnesium, and fiber.

11. Soy Milk

Soymilk is fortified with heart healthy nutrients, including: isoflavones, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium and phytoestrogen, potassium and B-complex vitamins

12. Almonds

Almonds are nutrition powerhouses that provide heart friendly mono and polyunsaturated fats, and:

Magnesium

Vitamin E

Phytosterols

Choose raw nuts without added salty or sugary toppings. Cacao dusted almonds are a great option to get an added boost of antioxidants from the chocolate. Pure almond butter is a super food that provides healthy fats and makes a great snack as a dip for fruit to satisfy the sweet tooth or on whole grain toast for breakfast.

13. Carrots

Carrots offer beta-carotene and fiber. They are also beneficial for vision health. They make a great sweet snack.

14. Spinach, Kale, And All Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are nature’s super foods and provide the best of what plant foods have to offer, including, lutein, B-complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium calcium, and fiber

Choose spinach instead of lettuce for nutrient-packed salads and sandwiches.

15. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are delicious and sweet, and while we often refer to them as vegetables, they are actually fruits.

For heart health, tomatoes offer lycopene, beta and alpha-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium.

Eat them in salads, as snacks, in smoothies, baked with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and in healthy sauces over whole grain pasta.

16. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a much better choice than white potatoes because they offer more nutrients, are lower on the Glycemic index, which makes them more effective for blood sugar control and offer these nutrients for heart health:

Beta-carotene

Vitamins A, C, and E

Fiber

17. Whole Grain Cereals

Whole grain cereals, like whole wheat and oat bran help to lower cholesterol.

18. Broccoli

Broccoli, like all green vegetables is low in calories, nutrient rich and can be eaten in abundance. Broccoli gives you many nutrients for heart health, including beta-carotene, vitamins C, E, A, B-6 and fiber.

Eat it steamed as a side dish, or chop fresh broccoli into soup. It also makes a great snack when dipped into nutrient rich hummus.

19. Oranges

Oranges are high in fiber and provide essential antioxidants to protect from free radicals. They also provide beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, flavonoids, and lots of vitamin C, folate, fiber, and potassium. Eat the whole fruit as juicing removes the pulp and eliminates the fiber.

20. Asparagus

Another awesome green vegetable that is low in calories and heart healthy offering essential nutrients, such as beta-carotene and lutein, B-complex vitamins, fiber and folate.

21. Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash is a vegetable rich in antioxidants, including, beta-carotene, lutein, B-complex and vitamin C. This tasty vegetable also provides folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.

22. Cantaloupe

This juicy sweet fruit is good for heart health due it’s rich content of antioxidants, including, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. It is also a high fiber fruit that can help prevent high cholesterol.

23. Papaya

Papaya is another sweet and delicious fruit that can help lower risks of heart disease by providing you with beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, vitamins E and C, lutein calcium, magnesium and potassium.

24. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate that is at least 60% cacao contains resveratrol and cocoa phenol flavonoids that are effective antioxidants in preventing heart disease.

25. Green Tea

Green tea has many health benefits, some of which are rooted in its content of catechin and flavanols that help to reduce heart disease risks. It also helps with weight loss, which naturally improves health and significantly lowers the risks for heart disease.

Bottom Line

Incorporating these 25 heart-healthy foods into your everyday diet can help to reduce your risk of developing heart conditions such as heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

Critical Facts About Heart Disease Prevention

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America. An estimated 81 million American adults, or more than 1 in 3, have one or more types of cardiovascular disease, including:

high blood pressure,
atherosclerosis (build up of cholesterol, fat, and fibrous tissue in the walls of the arteries),
coronary heart disease – narrowing of the arteries to the heart muscle, reducing blood supply to the heart, and resulting in angina pectoris (chest pain) and myocardial infarction (heart attack),
heart failure, and
stroke (interruption of blood supply to the brain).

For more than two decades, cholesterol has been vilified as the culprit for heart disease. You have been told by doctors and the media to keep your cholesterol as low as possible. Consequently, a low-fat diet is endorsed and foods like eggs and animal (saturated) fats that are high in cholesterol are banished.

In reality, cholesterol is vital for your body. It is found not only in your bloodstream, but also in every cell in your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids for fat digestion. Moreover, cholesterol is essential for your memory and brain function.

Eating foods high in cholesterol does not simply translate to high blood cholesterol. In reality, one of cholesterol’s roles is to repair injuries. When the liver receives signals that there is damage in the lining of the arteries, it transports cholesterol to the area to do the repair work. High levels of cholesterol often indicate that you have sustained much damage.

So what causes damage in the lining of arteries in the first place? Latest research shows that insulin and leptin resistance are the strong causal link to such damage leading to cardiovascular disease. Insulin and leptin resistance is the result of eating too much sugar and refined carbs over an extended period of time.

In this case, how come so many doctors are still prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) to their patients? What are the side effects of statins and are they truly effective in lowering your risk of heart disease? Read on to learn more.

High blood cholesterol does not necessarily mean that you have a higher risk of heart disease. Find out how to assess your heart disease risk from your blood test results.

Finally, like other degenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease is mostly preventable by good dietary and lifestyle habits. Learn ways to naturally lower your risk of heart disease.

Is cholesterol The Cause Of Heart Disease?

75% of the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes from what your liver is manufacturing and distributing. That’s why the cholesterol that you eat plays little role in determining your cholesterol levels in the blood.

The cholesterol that’s being made by the liver and deposited in your arteries is called LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), and the cholesterol that’s being taken away from the arteries back to the liver is called HDL (the “good” cholesterol). The reason cholesterol is taken back to the liver is that it can be conserved and recycled for future use.

One function of cholesterol is to keep your cell membranes from falling apart; it acts like a super glue. When the lining of your arteries are damaged, inflammation occurs, just like when you cut your finger. The liver is notified to send cholesterol to the damaged site to do repair work. This is a deliberate process that takes place in order for your body to produce new, healthy cells.

A common problem is that there is damage occurring in your body on a regular basis. In this case, you have chronic inflammation, which leads to accumulation of cholesterol in your arteries (called plaque) and an increased risk for high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Hundreds of scientific studies have now linked insulin and leptin resistance, caused by eating too much sugar and white carbs, to damage in the lining of arteries and cardiovascular disease. That’s why people with diabetes (a disease characterized by insulin and leptin resistance) have a much higher risk of heart disease than people with normal blood sugar levels.

To make things worse, insulin and leptin resistance also result in a greater number of small, dense LDL cholesterol (as opposed to bigger and less dense LDL) which can squeeze between the cell lining inside the arteries and get stuck, potentially oxidize (turn rancid), and cause more inflammation and plaque formation.

Are Statins The Cure For Heart Disease?

If you have high cholesterol, it means that you have chronic inflammation in the body. The cholesterol is there to help your body heal and repair.

By taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, yes, you are lowering your cholesterol levels and reducing plaque buildup in your arteries but you are not addressing why your body needs to produce the extra cholesterol in the first place. Besides, with less cholesterol to do the repair work, how do you heal the damage in the lining of the arteries?

Statin drugs have proliferated in the market. In America, it is the second most common class of medications prescribed, after antidepressants. Many doctors prescribe them to lower their patients’ cholesterol, not understanding that they are only dealing with the symptoms but not the underlying disease.

In addition, they are exposing their patients to a series of major side effects, including:

muscle and tendon problems,
cognitive impairment, including memory loss,
depressed immune function,
pancreas or liver dysfunction,
sexual dysfunction, and
cataracts.

Statins also lower your CoQ10, which is an antioxidant that mops up free radicals and a biochemical that transfers energy from food to your cells to be used for the work of staying alive and healthy. Statins, by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production, also blocks the same pathway by which CoQ10 is produced.

The loss of CoQ10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which further damage your DNA and accelerate aging. The heart is usually the first to feel the statin-associated CoQ10 depletion because of its extremely high energy demands. The longer you are on the drug, the more complications you may have. These can range from chronic fatigue to cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) and congestive heart failure.

Hence, if you are on statins, you need to supplement with CoQ10. If you are over 40, you should take the reduced version called ubiquinol as your body is less efficient in converting it. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t tell you this.

Given all these unpleasant side effects, are statins really effective in lowering your risk of heart disease? Many studies show that the result is inconclusive for people who have not had a heart attack.

Even BusinessWeek did a story on this topic in the January 17, 2008 issue. It reports that in Pfizer’s own newspaper ad for Lipitor, the drug company boasts that Lipitor reduces heart attacks by 36%. But there is an asterisk next to it and in smaller print underneath, it says: “In a large clinical study, 3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor.”

What this means is that for every 100 people who took Lipitor over the test period, 3 people
who were on placebos had heart attacks, versus 2 people on Lipitor. Not a significant achievement to brag about!

Other studies on Zetia and Vytorin (which is a combination of Zetia and Zocor) also fail to show that the drugs reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes.

Therefore, unless you have already had a heart attack, were born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, or are high in heart disease risk factors (see below), you should carefully weigh the risks and benefits before taking statins.

Alternatively, you may consider taking niacin (vitamin B3) to raise your HDL, and lower small, dense LDL and triglycerides (fats in blood). The major side effect of high-dose niacin is flushing of the skin and itching. Unfortunately, the non-flush niacin that’s available in the market seems to be ineffective for this purpose.

Make sure the niacin is nicotinic acid and not other related forms as they are not as effective. Start with 500 mg of sustained release niacin every other day and slowly work up to 2 grams per day to minimize side effects such as upset stomach, headache, and dizziness.

Take niacin with a big meal like dinner and 2 glasses of water to reduce the hot flush. Sometimes, it is necessary to take an uncoated aspirin 30 minutes before taking the niacin. Also, don’t drink alcohol or hot fluids around the time of the dose.

Do not take niacin if you have chronic liver disease, diabetes, or peptic ulcer. Always consult with your physician before taking high-dose niacin.

How To Assess Your Risk Of Heart Disease

Except for people whose total cholesterol is 340 or higher, your cholesterol number is not necessarily the most accurate measure of heart disease risk. The following are indicators from your blood test results that provide a better assessment of your risk:

HDL/Total Cholesterol – ideally, this ratio should be above 0.24.
Triglyceride/HDL – ideally, this ratio should be below 2.Triglycerides tend to rise from eating too much sugar and refined carbs, being physically inactive, smoking, excessive drinking, and being overweight or obese. Elevated levels increase heart disease risk.
Small, dense LDL – a high number is linked to a higher risk.
Homocysteine – too much of this amino acid in the blood is associated with buildup of plaque in arteries and tendency to form clots.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP) – a marker for chronic inflammation in the body.

Small, dense LDL, homocysteine, and CRP are not part of your typical blood cholesterol tests. You have to specifically request for these additional tests.

Please note that some people with high cholesterol may not have a high risk of heart disease and should definitely not be taking statins. On the other hand, some people with low cholesterol are actually at risk for heart disease. The next section discusses ways to prevent heart disease through heart-healthy dietary and lifestyle habits.

How To Naturally Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease

The goal here is not to reduce your cholesterol as low as it can go because cholesterol, as explained, serves some very important functions in the body. Rather, you want to avoid chronic inflammation which raises your risk of heart disease as well as many other degenerative diseases.

Optimize your insulin levels. 75% of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which in turn, is influenced by your insulin levels. Sugar, through a process called glycation, causes damage in the lining of your arteries. Therefore, if your HDL/Total Cholesterol ratio is too low, your should aim to eliminate sugar, fruits, and grains from your diet. Then, gradually reintroduce a small amount of fruits and whole grains when your cholesterol improves.
Make sure you get plenty of high quality, mercury-free fish oil. It contains omega-3 fats which help cut down inflammation, lower your total cholesterol and trigylcerides and increase your HDL cholesterol. Studies show that fish omega-3 is just as effective as low-dose aspirin in preventing heart disease, without any long-term side effects of the drug.
Avoid oxidized fats or trans fats. Stay away from refined vegetable oils which are high in polyunsaturated fats. These fats are easily damaged and oxidized during high heat processing or cooking. Oxidized fats are characterized by the presence of free radicals that cause inflammation in the body. Do not use canola, corn, soy, safflower, or sunflower oils. Be aware that they are commonly used in fast foods, restaurants, and processed foods.
Avoid charring your meats.
Eat right for your Metabolic Type. Protein types tend to require more fat and protein (in particular, red and dark meats) and less carbs than the Mixed and Carb types. By eating the right proportions of fat, protein, and carbs for your body, it will be like giving an engine the right mix of fuel to run in the most efficient manner. If you want to find out your Metabolic Type and the best foods for your specific body, please contact me.
Heart-healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, organic dairy products (butter, cream, cheese, etc.), organic free-range eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.
Optimize your vitamin D levels at 50-70 ng/ml. Research studies find that vitamin D deficiency is associated with stiffening of the arteries, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Reduce your homocysteine levels. Folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and choline are nutrients that lower homocysteine. These nutrients are found mostly in eggs, meats, and green leafy vegetables.
Check your thyroid. Poor thyroid function (hypothyroidism) often results in high cholesterol levels. Low thyroid function can be due to a diet high in sugar and low in fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Use natural sea salt, not the refined iodized salt, for a balanced intake of minerals.
Exercise daily. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and blood flow throughout your body. Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can improve your cardiovascular health.
Drop the excess weight. Carrying extra pounds increases your risk of heart disease. Even a little weight reduction will raise your HDL levels.
Avoid smoking. Smoking constricts your blood vessels and raises your risk of heart attacks.
Don’t drink alcohol excessively. Limit to one drink a day.
Address the sources of stress in your life. Reduce them or learn ways to cope with them.
Get plenty of restorative sleep every night.

A List of Heart Diseases and Their Descriptions

While looking at a list of heart diseases often causes some confusion at first glance because of the medical terms used, the knowledge may be helpful when we and our love ones are affected by a particular heart disease. Knowing before hand the nature of the different types of heart diseases could assist us when the physician is explaining to us the kind of disease that a relative or friend may be suffering from. Having a list of heart diseases may come handy in such situations.

A List of Heart Diseases with a Brief Description

In this list of heart diseases, the general types of conditions are cardiac arrhythmia, aortic dissection, myocardial infarction, and congenital heart diseases. In arrhythmia, the patient has an irregular heart beat, heart palpitations, a feeling of being light headed, or a brief loss of consciousness. In an aortic dissection, the aorta’s inner layer is torn so that blood is able to get out and form a pool outside the aortic wall. This often requires surgery and immediate treatment because the outer wall could tear open and may even lead to myocardial infarction.

A heart attack or a myocardial infarction happens when a coronary artery is blocked so that a part of the heart dies, thereby resulting into extreme chest pain. The blockage is usually the result of the accumulation of fatty substances in the arteries. A congenital heart disease results from an abnormality in the heart at birth.

Meanwhile, Coronary Heart Disease Has Become the Number One Killer of Women

Recent studies have revealed that coronary heart disease has been tagged as the number one killer disease for women, contrary to the common belief that it is breast cancer. Research has also found that the number of American women who lose their lives due to cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart disease, is almost twice the number of women who have died from all types of cancer.

What Causes Heart Disease, Particularly Woman’s Heart Disease?

It has been reported by several studies that woman’s heart disease usually comes unnoticed by the women themselves or the attending physicians. While men often describe what they are feeling during a heart attack in such a way that the doctor will be able to diagnose it correctly, women usually describe their symptoms in a vague manner so that the attending doctor might not notice that she had a heart attack.

With regards to the causes of heart disease, common factors include stress, insufficient exercise, obesity, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. An additional factor has been found for women because estrogen has been found to control the amount of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. During menopause, the estrogen levels gradually decrease so the bad cholesterol levels begin to rise.

In summary, there are various kinds of heart disease and it would be helpful to have some knowledge of the different types. Having a list of heart diseases coupled with brief descriptions as to their nature, causes and effects would be helpful for any person who wants to prevent this disease and remain healthy.