by Arielle Pierre October 2015
When an airline jet crashes, and two-hundred people perish, it makes world headlines. But in the United States alone, an equivalent to more than ten jumbo jets of people die each day from heart disease. That’s an astounding 2,500 people every day. Why is it that we hear so little about the millions dying of heart disease? Sadly, it’s because most people have come to accept heart attacks as a “normal” part of life! For many people with cardiovascular or heart disease, death comes as unexpectedly and suddenly as in an airplane crash.
The World Health Organization stated that worldwide “about twelve million people die every year of cardiovascular problems, but up to half of them could be saved if better prevention programs were in effect.” While “better” prevention programs could cut fatal heart disease by about 50 percent, some research suggests that with optimum prevention, we could reduce heart disease related deaths by as much as 90 percent. Simply put, nine out of ten heart attacks may be preventable! How? With natural prevention. But before we get to the remedies, the first step to conquering heart disease is to understand the causes.
Heart disease usually develops silently over many years. Vital arteries that supply the heart with oxygen become narrowed and hardened. Think of an old, rusty water pipe. Eventually the arties become plugged up. While it is very common, this disease process is not normal. In fact, the vast majority of people living in societies where people have a simpler diet and lifestyle, suffer very little heart disease. Significant cholesterol plaque already occurs in 1 out of 6 American teens. By the age of 40, 70 percent have narrowed hardened arteries. By this time it is not unusual for arteries to be halfway plugged. Even at this stage, most people will feel normal and do not have any symptoms of cardiovascular problems. A person may feel great and yet be on the verge of a major heart attack. In a heart attack, a complete blockage of one of the coronary arteries occurs and the heart muscle actually dies. The main symptom is chest pain, frequently described as a heavy feeling of pressure in the chest. If the person survives, they are left with scar tissue in that area, instead of muscle. Two out of three times this will result in a permanent disability.
The more risk factors a person has, the greater their likelihood of suffering a heart attack. Let’s look at the “big three” risk factors for heart disease.
The Big Three
About 30 percent of cardiovascular deaths are due to smoking. The good news is that those who stop smoking can reduce their risk by up to 75 percent within just 5 years.
And what about high blood pressure? Even small increases in the blood pressure will significantly increase one’s risk of heart disease. By simply reducing your blood pressure by 10 points, you reduce your risk by 30 percent. In many cases, an elevated blood pressure can be corrected with simple lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.
Overall, high cholesterol is the number one contributor to heart disease. The higher one’s cholesterol, the more rapidly the clogging of arteries.
In a serious effort to reduce heart disease in Finland, about 30,000 men and women were convinced to make lifestyle changes: they stopped smoking, lowered blood pressure and decreased their cholesterol intake. The result? The men reduced their deaths from heart disease by more than half and the women did even better, reducing their risk by nearly 70 percent!
Natural Prevention for Heart Health
So how can we improve our cardiovascular system and ensure heart health? Here are some natural and extremely helpful prevention methods.
First, we should increase the plant-based foods and reduce or eliminate the animal products in our diet. This helps reduce our cholesterol levels significantly. (Side note: Cholesterol is only found in animal products, such as meat, milk, cheese, and eggs.). All plant foods (fruits, grains, vegetables, and nuts) are 100% cholesterol-free!
Plant-based foods are also rich in fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and antioxidants that work together to help protect us from high blood pressure, obesity, and other risk factors for heart disease.
What else can we do? Strive to achieve your ideal weight. We have known for many years that being overweight is a risk factor for the cardiovascular system. In fact, it increases one’s risk by 3 to 5 times.
Also, exercise regularly. Research and studies show that those who are physically active have only half the risk of heart and cardiovascular issues as compared to relatively inactive people. Exercise can include walking, biking, gardening or a variety of enjoyable activities.
Now, what about genetics? Maybe you have given up trying to change your lifestyle because heart issues “run in the family”. One may inherit a genetic tendency toward cardiovascular disease, however it is time we stop blaming our heredity or our culture. The evidence is clear. Heart disease does not need to be a killer. As a doctor once said, “faulty genetics may load the gun, but it’s our lifestyle that pulls the trigger.”
Improving our lifestyle, what we do and the way we eat or exercise, will give us significant protection from heart disease. Our personal health ultimately determines whether we choose to become chained to bad habits and sickness or to use our God-given freedom to live healthfully!
Jesus himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV). By practicing these simple methods, we too can have life more abundantly!
1 World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in the Division of Cardiology at The Ottawa Hospital - General Site of the University of Ottawa—Cardiovascular Disease Infobase, http://cvdinfobase.ca
2 Gyarfas I. Chief of the World Health Organization Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program: World Health Day, Apr. 1992. (Source: Proof Positive)
3 1999 statistics reported in The Journal of Health & Healing, vol. 22, No. 3, p. 15
4 American Heart Association. Heart and Stroke Fact: 2012 Statistical Supplement. p. 1
5 Vartiainen E, Puska P, et al. Changes in risk factors explain changes in mortality from ischaemic heart disease in Finland. BMJ 1994 Jul 2;309(6946):23-27. Quoted in Proof Positive, p. 60.
6 US. Preventive Services Task Force. Counseling to Prevent tobacco Use. In: Guide to Clinical Preventive Services – 2nd edition. Baltimore,MD: Williams and Wilkins, 1996 p. 597-609
7 The Harvard Health letter, 2013.
8 From the World Health Organization data analyzed from 1970-1980.
10 Hans Diehl, Lifestyle capsules, p.39 and 64. http://www.heartstats.org/uploads/documents/EStext.pdf