Q: Who gets heart disease?

A:Women, men, black, white, Asian, and Latino. People from all socioeconomic backgrounds and geographic environments. In certain instances, such as women over 35 who smoke and take birth control or men who have multiple risk factors, the likelihood of developing heart disease is increased by up to ten times. Heart disease most often affects those people who don’t recognize or manage the associated risk factors. It is so prevalent in America, that it is responsible for more than three quarters of the annual deaths (around 700,000 deaths each year). Women, men, black, white, Asian, and Latino, all have high incidences of cardiovascular disease, especially after age 55.

Q: What is heart disease?

A: Heart disease is a malfunction of your heart that results from injury or disease. It can be a problem with the muscle, or with the heart’s blood supply, or problems with different components, such as valves or nerves. We use terms like heart attack, heart failure, coronary heart disease, heart arrhythmias, and infarctions to describe different heart related diseases.

Risk factors come together and cause damage to blood vessels that supply the heart. Blockages called plaque form at these damaged areas and partially or completely restrict blood flow resulting in heart injury.

Q: Why is heart disease so prevalent?

A: Popular lifestyles, such as lack of exercise, eating too much and unhealthy habits leading to being overweight, favor the development of major risk factors. Consuming processed foods and lack of supplements result in deficiencies of key nutrients. Without the right vitamins and nutrients, the necessary “sparks” of biological activity are lacking, which results in less-than-optimal metabolic reactions which are needed to keep our organs functioning giving us life. Poor diets rich in trans and saturated fats, low in fiber and high in sodium promote the development of hypertension and diabetes. Untreated medical conditions and genetic or familial tendencies act as multipliers to any existing risk factors.

Q: Where do the major risk factors for heart disease come from?

A: All facets of our lives. Some risk factors can be controlled through behavior and lifestyle changes, such as obesity/overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, and excessive consumption of alcohol. Others may be controlled by improving diet through consuming less solid fat and sodium, increasing fiber intake and using supplements. Successfully managing underlying medical issues through medication and regular doctor visits will help. We have no control over some risk factors, like age or familial tendencies. Risk factors come from our family, our diet, our behaviors and our health status.

* Remember risk factors will gang up on you. Having one risk factor doubles your risk, two quadruple it and having three increases the risk by 10 fold.

Q: How do we improve our chances of avoiding Heart disease?

A: Pay attention: Know the risk factors and manage the ones you can, and “Live a Heart Healthy Lifestyle.” Consult your healthcare provider about evaluating your “Individual Risk”.

Don’t smoke. Exercise regularly. Maintain healthy body weight. Supplement a healthy diet with vitamins and nutrients. Professionally manage medical issues. Avoid situations that increase your risk. Manage stress.

*To promote healthier lifestyles for children, practice good choices from preconception, thru prenatal to neonatal instilling lifelong habits of diet management and vitamin/mineral supplementation.

MAIN MESSAGE

Consult your healthcare advisor to assist you in developing a Heart Healthy Lifestyle. Your doctor is the best person to consider the multitude of interrelated metabolic and physiologic factors involved in your “Individual Risk”. He or she can make recommendations that fit your particular family circumstance. Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle is a step towards success.

NEXT WEEK . . .

The BIG Four risk factors and the one underlying thing that really increases your chances of developing heart disease.