Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in the United States. By 2020 heart disease and stroke will become the leading cause of both death and disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. While most people think of heart disease as synonymous with heart attacks, there are many more ailments and conditions which affect the heart. Heart disease includes coronary artery disease (heart attack), congestive heart disease, heart failure, heart arrhythmias as well as other conditions.
The heart works hard to pump blood throughout the entire system of blood vessels inside our bodies. When a heart isn’t taken care of, it is forced to work harder to keep the body functioning. Cholesterol is a major factor in limiting the transport of blood throughout our bodies.
Cholesterol is a waxy-type substance of fat found in the body (about 75%). The other 25% comes from food. It is produced mainly in the liver, but also in the reproductive organs and adrenal glands. It is transported through the body as lipoproteins which are first assembled in the liver. The most “popular” lipoproteins are HDL (high-density lipoprotein), the “good” type that carries cholesterol out of the system; and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the “bad” type that deposits cholesterol in arterial walls, where it can build up and narrow the arteries and become a major risk factor for a heart attack.
It is imperative to understand that nutrition and lifestyle changes must be at the forefront of your heart healthy plan. Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leader in integrative medicine, was recently on the Dr. Oz show and challenged Dr. Oz, a noted heart surgeon, about the use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol. Finally, the doctors agreed: too many people are using statins as an excuse NOT to make lifestyle changes. Dr. Oz added, “If you are taking statins and still eating kielbasa, you’ve still got the (cholesterol) problem.”
Another very important point the doctors made is that if you have high cholesterol and do not have heart disease, statins are not going to help. [NO ONE SHOULD ALTER THE DOSE OR STOP TAKING ANY PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION WITHOUT CONSULTING THEIR PHYSICIAN.] More tests are needed to determine the root cause of the imbalance. And I’ll repeat: nutrition and lifestyle are at the core of what must change to get your heart (and mind/body/spirit) in optimal working order.
The most important person who can help you reduce your risk of heart disease is YOU. And, fortunately, medical and research professionals have made invaluable discoveries about heart disease, risk factors and prevention. While some heart disease is genetic, even your DNA can benefit from calculated and continual preventive efforts (healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits are key).
The earlier you start preventing heart disease, the better. Why not right now?
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly and discuss the numbers with your doctor.
- Substitute healthy herbs for salt when cooking to reduce blood pressure.
- Read food labels when grocery shopping to avoid products with hydrogenated oils.
- Make exercise a part of your heart-healthy routine every day. Even 30 minutes a day can make a big difference.
- In the US, wear red this Friday, February 3, National Wear Red Day. This movement was established to raise awareness about heart disease in women and necessary funds for vital research.
These steps will help you incorporate heart-healthy habits into your life. If you are concerned about your heart health, the foods you eat and/or creating an energized and fulfilled life, contact me at or call 413-282-7286. At Bravo! Wellness, I work with my clients to create manageable lifestyle changes so they are able to achieve their greatest potential in life, health and business.