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Heart Disease


Introduction

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), or heart disease, encompasses hypertension or high blood pressure, Coronary Heart Disease, stroke, rheumatic heart disease, and Congestive Heart Failure. Without dietary and lifestyle modifications, CVD often results in heart attack and death. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, causing one in four deaths. Heart disease impacts both men and women. Risks for hearts disease in women significantly increase post-menopause.

Coronary heart disease is a result of reduced blood flow to the heart and network of blood vessels near the heart. Atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries, is the main cause of this reduced blood flow. Atherosclerosis begins in childhood but takes decades to be noticed. Therefore, the diet and lifestyle an adolescent leads greatly predicts the risk for a cardiovascular event during adulthood. Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity increase plaque production and buildup.

Triglyceride levels, a measure of fat in the blood and a subsection of total cholesterol levels, are influenced by diet and lifestyle. Vegetarian, low fat, refined carbohydrate diets often lead to elevated triglycerides. Estrogen dominance, alcohol intake, obesity, blood sugar imbalance, hypothyroidism, chronic renal disease, and liver disease all impact metabolism and excretion, therefore contributing to a buildup of waste products and triglycerides.

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Common Symptoms

Shortness of breath; chest tightness; numbness or tingling; syncope (fainting); fatigue or lethargy; heart palpitations; lightheadedness or dizziness.

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Common Causes

A sedentary lifestyle and a rise in the average body mass index are the greatest contributors to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and ultimately heart disease. A ten percent reduction in weight greatly reduces this and other health risks.

Many studies point to emotional health as a major factor in heart problems. Stress, anger, and overwork are major triggers of heart attacks, especially in men. People with high anger scores on personality tests are three times more likely to develop heart disease.

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Other Risk Factors

Men in their forty's; post-menopausal women; genetics; diabetes; high blood pressure; abnormal cholesterol levels; excessive body fat around the waist; increased insulin levels; metabolic syndrome; chronic kidney disease; stress; elevated C-reactive protein and/or homocysteine levels in blood test.

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Natural Treatment

Increasing physical activity, losing weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol lower risk for cardiovascular disease and death. Adjusting diet and lifestyle (online or in person) to meet these goals outweighs the benefits of prescription drug usage.

Antioxidant intake through diet and supplementation helps repair damaged cells and prevent the spread of these damaged cells to surrounding organs. Appropriate calcium and other mineral intake have positive results on blood lipid levels. Therapeutic doses of certain vitamins and minerals have also been shown to lower blood lipid levels. Some prescription medications increase risks for deficiencies, actually making the muscles and heart work harder. Consult with an EB Nutrition Dietitian (online or in person) to help develop your personalized heart healthy plan!

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References

Page L. Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone Eleventh Edition. Traditional Wisdom, Inc; 2000.

Heart disease. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2009. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/. Accessed on October 22, 2009.

Heart disease and stroke statistics. American Heart Association. 2009. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/1240250946756LS-1982%20Heart%20and%20Stroke%20Update.042009.pdf. Accessed on October 22, 2009.

Mahan LK, Escott-Stump S. Kraus's Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy. 11th Ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2004: 860-900.

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