Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heart Disease Fact or Fantasy?



In just a couple of weeks the American Heart Association will be having their annual heart walk in our area, much like they are around the country this time of year.  I walk in the walk for all those who can not walk for themselves however my family tree is no stranger to this deadly disease. 

My mother survived her heart attack however; my grandmother and grandfather did not. My husband’s father survived his 1st heart attack at 52 years old, lived long enough to survive a second one.

When I worked as a nurse in our local hospital's Cardiac Care Unit we had many patients who had heart attacks just like their parents did; just about the same time in their life as their parents.  However we had just as many who neither of their parents experienced a heart attack at any time in their life. They were the first person in their family. 

Some people who have heart attacks lead healthy lives, including good food choices and exercise daily. Others live unhealthy lives, smoking, have high blood pressure and cholesterol, uncontrolled diabetes, eating salted, fried foods at every meal. My grandfather was the latter.  As they say he worked hard, lived heard, and died at almost 90 years old of a heart attack. Some would say he had good genes, others would say it’s just luck. For me, I say it’s a gamble. I’m leveraging my bet by eating healthy, exercising most days of the week, and taking care of myself. To feel great each and every day is what I’m striving for. How about you?

Here we go … Fact or Fantasy?

No one in my family died of a heart attack so I don’t need to know about it. (fantasy)

The #1 Cause of is Death is Heart Disease.
7.1 million have suffered a heart attack.
100 million have been diagnosed with heart disease.
500 million women & 450 million men died of heart disease.
1 in 3 people will die from complications of hardening of the arteries.
23% of Americans have high blood pressure.

According to the latest statistics gathered by the World Health Organization 2011, 63% of us will experience a heart attack in our lifetime.  The Journal of the American College of Cardiology just published (2012) a new study reporting if you had a family member under 60 years old have a heart attack, you are 5 times more likely to have one. Even at that, there is no guarantee or proof positive evidence if your family member has an heart attack you will. At best, heredity only plays 30% in your disease risks. So you have 70% chance it won't happen.

Men are much more likely to have a heart attack than women. (fantasy)

Did you know heart disease is the # 1 cause of death for women. Heart attack is more likely to kill women than men. Women are 6 times more likely to die of a heart attack than breast cancer. And
1 in 9 Women 45 – 64 years old and 1 in 3 - Over 65 years old will be effected. Back in the 1960's when women started living like men; smoking, drinking excessively, eating unhealthy restaurant foods, increasing stress (women can do it all, work and have a family), we began to see an increased incidence of heart attacks. So I guess not.

Heart disease is a disease of middle age and older yrs? (fantasy)

Oh, no. Thanks to all those "hurry up eateries" with the cute toys and the snack food and sugary beverage industry by age 3, children have fatty deposits in their arteries.By age 12, 70% of the kids have developed beginning stages of hardening of the arteries. By age 18 30.2% high blood pressure 17.3% high cholesterol. Children are now developing diabetes at an alarming rate. Some scientists think at the current rate of incidence 50% of the kids born after year 2000 will have diabetes in their lifetime. In fact, pediatricians are now challenged with the task of taking care of kids with increase cardiac risks. Something they don't learn in medical school. After all who ever heard of kids having heart attacks? Just wait. It's on the way!

No Pain, No Gain. You need to get sweaty & out of breath for it to count. (fantasy)

It’s all about activity. Activity is the only way to develop collateral circulation in the heart, any level of activity will improve circulation and increase oxygen (aerobic) to your heart. Although cardio exercise is the best, any activity will build your heart muscle. That's why older people survive heart attacks in better health, than younger ones. In fact, if you exercise too hard you will be taking oxygen (anaerobic) away from your heart causing damage. A rule of thumb is exercise hard enough to break a sweat, sing happy birthday or have a steady conversation. Any harder is too hard for you.

The stress is killing me. (fact)

OnHealth Consumer Reports 2007 reported “Treating depression and curbing anger my be nearly as important for preventing heart attack as much as diet and exercise”.  A Mayo Clinic Study reported heart circulation Increased 22 % during laughter and decreased 35% during stress. In fact, there is now proof stress can cause DNA mutation which contributes and sometimes caused disease. Scientists can now prove what we have known all along, stress even the perception of stress can literally kill you.

Why are we so unhealthy? 

As the famous line goes, "there are many roads to Rome."  Well, there are many roads to sickness, disease and poor health. Here are the top 6.

  1. Poor food choices
  2. Eating too much “BAD” foods
  3. Not eating enough “GOOD” foods
  4. Not drinking enough water
  5. Lack of exercise
  6. Stressful lifestyles
The recommendation from the AmericanHeart Association, American Cancer Society and the USDA (our government) is to Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, on average 7 – 13 servings (1 serving 1/2 cup)


Start with what's on your plate .. Eat MORE Fruits and Vegetables:  

Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
Anti – inflammatory
Enhance immune function
Reduces DNA damage
Improves circulation

For those of us who can’t, won’t or don’t know how to eat enough fruits and veggies to maintain their health I recommend Juice Plus+ (http://www.yourjuiceplus.com)

The American Heart Association also recommends adding the Omega 3’s heart healthy fats such as fish and nuts plus adding a fish oil supplement to assist in the reduction of inflammation. For those who don’t like fish, I recommend a fish oil supplement. (http://www.nordicnaturals.com)

Once you have a heart attack it’s all downhill, no recovery. (fantasy)

Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease (1976) reports “It is easier to PREVENT heart disease than it is to REVERSE heart disease.” However with strict lifestyle changes heart disease can be reduced by 60%.

If I wait a minute my chest pain will go away, and I will be ok. (fantasy)

Call 911, fast. If you get to the hospital fast enough, there are procedures that can minimize the damage to the heart muscle. 

Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies -- every second counts.

Your partner in health,
Health Coach
Wellness Consultant


1 comment:

Cynth'ya Reed said...

Cindy this is an EXCELLENT blog! Will be following you more closely. (Once again it always pays to slow down to read something we never knew existed that can bless our lives, as well as the lives of others. Never met you personally, but we have kindred spirits when it comes to better health decisions and choices. Thank you Girl!

Cynth'ya Lewis Reed