The Biggest Killer of the West: Learn the Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when the arteries which supply the heart with oxygen become hardened. This is also known as the process of atherosclerosis. This can eventually result in complete blockage of a coronary artery and result in a heart attack. Heart disease is the Western world`s biggest killer today by far. However, the good news is that 90% of all heart disease is entirely preventable (and even reversible in some cases) through diet and lifestyle changes, making all those drugs used to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure unnecessary.

There are often no symptoms experienced by people with heart disease. For this reason risk markers are used to assess the likelihood of developing the disease.

Risk Markers and Causes

* Increased risk of the disease is associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood triglycerides (another type of saturated fat found in the blood), low "good" HDL cholesterol, and high "bad" LDL cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are linked with lower rates of heart disease, while LDL are linked with an increased risk. These are the more traditional markers.

* Only 40% of people who suffer heart attacks actually have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, so there are also more advanced markers that can provide more accurate indicators of heart disease. These include high fibrinogen levels, high apolipoprotein B and lipoprotein(A)and low apolipoprotein A-1 levels. Do ask your practitioner for more details about these markers.

* Recent research also shows other important markers related to increased risk of heart disease including high homocysteine levels. High homocysteine can result from a nutritional deficiency of vitamin B12 folate and vitamin B6.

* C reactive protein is another new marker for heart disease which can reflect the level of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the immune system`s response to foreign invaders and trauma. Research shows that the process of atheroclerosis is also an inflammatory condition, so eating an anti inflammatory diet is important. This means little sugar and lots of raw fruits and vegetables as well as foods high in omega 3.

* The risk is also higher for people who are obese, who have a family history of heart disease or who have diabetes, smoke and do not exercise.

* The risk is also higher for people with "Metabolic Syndrome," which is also known as insulin resistance and is linked to problems managing blood sugar levels. Eating breakfast, eating plenty of protein and cutting out sugar and high carb foods such as bread are important for health.

* People who eat a lot of processed and refined foods high in sugar and fat, fail to drink enough water, drink excessive levels of alcohol, drink caffeine and eat lower levels of fiber and fruit and vegetables are at much greater risk for heart disease than those of us who don`t do these things. Therefore, eating a healthy diet of natural whole foods is important for avoiding heart disease.

* Stress is a very important independent risk factor for heart disease. Stressed, anxious people and angry "Type A" personalities are more at risk to higher cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, so dealing with stress with exercise, deep breathing and alternative and mainstream therapies are essential for people who are extremely stressed out. (Natural News, 9.15.2008, Alex Howard, See all articles by this author, Email this author)

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