Did you know that some 7 million Americans suffer from Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), the most common form of heart disease? This type of heart disease is caused by a narrowing of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. CHD is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. Each year; more than 500,000 Americans die of heart attacks caused by CHD. Many of these deaths could be prevented because CHD is related to certain aspects of lifestyle.
Risk Factors for CHD
Risk factors for CHD include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity–all of which can be controlled. Although medical treatments for heart disease have come a long way, controlling risk factors remains the key to preventing illness and death from CHD that is said to be the diseases of kings and the king of diseases.
Some Celebrities with CHD include:
Bill Clinton (quadruple bypass surgery in 2004); David Letterman (quadruple bypass surgery in 2000); Larry King (heart attack and bypass surgery in 1987); Mike Ditka (heart attack in 1988); Tommy Lasorda (heart attack in 1996); Dick Cheney (at least 4 heart attacks); comedian Phyllis Diller (heart attack in 1999); Elizabeth Taylor (congestive heart failure); mob mom Victoria Gotti (heart disease from age 16); Ma Ji (died of heart disease in 2006); Alfredo Di Stefano (heart attack in 2005); and adventurer and author Sir Ranulph Fiennes (heart attack and bypass surgery).
So, who exactly is at risk for CHD?
Risk factors are conditions that increase your risk of developing heart disease. Some can be changed and some unfortunately cannot. Controllable risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
The leading cause of Coronary heart disease is uncontrolled blood pressure and high blood lipid levels.
Heart Disease Statistics
- Every 34 seconds, a person in the United States dies from heart disease.
- More than 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day.
- Every 20 seconds, a person in the United States has a heart attack.
- At least 250,000 people die of heart attacks each year before they reach a hospital.
- Studies show that under-educated people are more likely to suffer heart attacks.
- The countries with the highest death rates from heart disease are the Soviet Union, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. The countries with the lowest are Japan, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Canada.
- Almost 6 million hospitalizations each year (in the United States) are due to cardiovascular disease.
- Since 1900, Cardiovascular Disease has been the number 1 killer in the United States for every year but 1918.
- Every 33 seconds, a person dies from Cardiovascular Disease in the United States.
- Men suffer heart attacks about 10 years earlier in life than women do.
High Blood Pressure Statistics
- High Blood Pressure was listed on death certificates as the primary cause of death of 57,356 Americans in 2005. High Blood Pressure was listed as a primary or contributing cause of death in about 319,000 of the more than 2.4 million U.S. deaths in 2005.
- About 73.6 million people in the United States age 20 and older have high blood pressure.
- One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure.
- Twenty-one percent of people with high blood pressure don’t know they have it.
- Of all people with high blood pressure, 78.7 percent are aware of their condition, 69.1 percent are under treatment, 45.4 percent have it under control and 54.6 percent do not have it controlled.
- The cause of 90–95 percent of the cases of high blood pressure isn’t known; however, high blood pressure is easily detected and usually controllable.
- From 1995 to 2005, the death rate from HBP increased 25.2 percent, and the actual number of deaths rose 56.4 percent.
- People with lower educational and income levels tend to have higher levels of blood pressure.
- The 2005 overall death rate from HBP was 18.4. Death rates were 15.8 for white males, 15.1 for white females, 52.1 for black males and 40.3 for black females.
An estimated 98.6 million adults in the United States have total blood cholesterol values of 200 mg/dL and higher, and of these, about 34.4 million American adults have levels of 240 or above. In adults, total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher are considered high risk. Levels from 200 to 239 mg/dL are considered borderline-high risk.
Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Naturally
Weight reduction is very important. In overweight people, a 10 percent reduction in total body weight will sometimes normalize blood pressure. A brisk 30-minute walk 6 days a week helps to reduce blood pressure. Other ways to normalize blood pressure include:
- Meditation: A new study shows it works for teens too.
- Yoga: It reduces stress and strengthens the mind and body.
- Eliminating tobacco: All forms of tobacco dramatically raise blood pressure.
- Avoid Salt: And sodium-rich foods such as soy sauce and canned soups.
- Alcohol in moderation: 1-2 drinks a day is OK–even stress-relieving–but more can cause health problems.
- Ditto for caffeine: Too much daily coffee – and even tea- can raise blood pressure.
- Get adequate sleep: High blood pressure patients deprived of sleep experience significant increases in blood pressure, especially during the evening. Using a special biofeedback machine, individuals learn to control their own physiological responses – including blood pressure.
- Omit Oral Contraceptives: Birth control pills can increase blood pressure.
You can make small dietary changes to take steps toward a healthier heart. They don’t have to be drastic changes — some are quite easy, if you’re on the lookout.
- Reject Refined Foods: Shun the salty, sugary, pre-made, preserved, fried and fatty.
- Avoid: tinned canned and processed foods. These are usually very high-sodium.
- Do not drink Sodas: Soft drinks can deplete potassium.
- Find Fibre: Think veggies and whole grains.
- Forgo: animal fat.
- Toss the Trans Fats: These are a greater risk than even saturated fats. Whole Oats eaten daily lower hypertension.
- Prefer Potassium: This crucial mineral is found in many fruits and vegetables.
- Add Magnesium: in a diet containing leafy greens, legumes, whole grains and supplements.
- Value Vitamin C: The less vitamin C in the blood, the higher the blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
- Boost Bioflavonoids: These are found in fruits, vegetables and supplements. Bioflavonoid enhance vitamin C’s effect.
- Eat foods rich in Vitamin E: Evidence suggests that vitamin E also magnifies vitamin C’s blood pressure-lowering effect.
- DASH Your Diet: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, and its low in fat.
Stay tuned for Part 2, in which we will discuss natural products that help control Blood Pressure and Cholesterol.
Dr. Rajesh Vishwanathan, MBBS, became disillusioned with the impersonal and aggressive allopathic system and trained and qualified in Yoga, meditation, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. He dreams of Integrating Allopathic medicine with the Alternative systems of healing.